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Aronia - Chokeberry. Has anybody made wine from these or grow them?

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garymc

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I got about 40 pounds of aronia berries last year and made a 5 gallon batch of wine with them. The berries are very astringent, like persimmons, so I figured it would be a high tannin dry wine. Unfortunately, at the second racking (I really mean the first racking from carboy to carboy after it's transferred from the bucket) I topped it up with 1 quart of Just Tart Cherry juice. I thought that might go well with the aronia. Now, it's a year down the road, and I just bottled the wine. I bottled 15 bottles dry (1.000 specific gravity) and 11 semi-sweet. The dry wine tastes slightly sweet and very much like tart cherry and the semi-sweet tastes more like tart cherry than tart cherry does. I have no aronia other than the color. There is no astringency, no heavy tannin. It's just a very pleasant fruit wine that you can drink like water. Next year I'm going to top with elderberry or not at all.
I planted 3 aronia bushes in 2014, but they haven't had any berries yet. I've decided to try to propagate them if I can. I'll bend some branches down and layer them, and in early March, I'll prune off some limbs and stick them in the ground. Don't laugh, it worked with elderberries.
One odd thing I've noticed about the bushes. They've lost most of their leaves already, but a couple of the branches have flowers on them now in the first week of October. Picture below.

20161010_161203.jpg
 

winehomie

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Tart cherry juice is a very flavorful juice, I used it on a dry blueberry wine one time just to add a little extra flavor and totally overpowered the blueberry with just a small amount. Lesson learned Now If I want to add some cherry flavor I use a sweet cherry juice, much easier to add without overpowering your original berry flavor, I am a big fan of back sweetening with juice instead of simple sugar, I just think it adds more personality (for lack of a better word) to the wine.
 

GreginND

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Yes, we do an aronia wine. It is very unique in flavors - earthy smells, but not on the taste. It has nice fruit and some body from the tannins. The berries were very ripe - about 18 brix when picked. It is sweetened to medium sweetness about 4% RS.
 

wineforfun

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@knifemaker (Dale) makes an excellent aronia berry wine. Hopefully he sees this and chimes in. I know he did some trial and error with it before settling on a method.
 

knifemaker

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Well, thank you for the compliment DJ. My first attempt was with frozen fruit, I I believe I used 6 lbs to the gallon. I didn't crush them as I assumed they'd be just like blueberries and release juice from being frozen. Wrong assumption, the fruit remained very firm and I noticed a very earth like aroma. I believe it was under ripe fruit. Second attempt was with pressed juice cut 50% with water as recommended by another wine maker. I felt it was much too thin in body and light in flavor. The third attempt was with straight juice, they tested at 20 brix so didn't need very much of a sugar addition. I felt that it was a little too tannic for my tastes, but it was only a year old. I decided to blend the two and feel that it's just perfect for my tastes. I didn't back sweeten, but I did use one quart of straight juice to 5 gals of stabilized wine, so just off dry. I've was told that aronia contains some natural sorbitol, so that does add some perceived sweetness to the wine. Hope this helps a little, Dale.
 

Number1hunter

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I have made Aroina wine several times, I have had great luck with ten pounds , fresh frozen berries 32 ounces Lemon juice sp. gravity to 1.090 you can drink this wine dry or sweeten to 1.010 I put hole berry in strainer bag and crush with clean and sanitized hand daily for 3 or 4 days. Remove berries and ferment to dry . This wine need a little age, 12 month this wine starts to come to life! When I fist started peeping around this form, I thought everyone was fooling about letting wine age for several months to years..I thought mine was good at a month or two old.[emoji30] because that was my oldest wine. Really people do wait several months or years for there wines to be good!!
 

gratus_fermentatio

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I've never used the whole fruit, but I've used the "Just Aronia Berry" juice from Knudsen. I've found that the aronia berry flavor is quite mild, easily overpowered by other flavors. I've done some taste testing mixing various ratios of aronia berry juice with other juices & every time, the other juice flavor was dominant. I used concord grape, blueberry & black currant. I didn't think it mixed well with the blueberry at all, though the black currant wasn't bad, especially when the currant was slightly diluted with water. The best mix was 50/50 aronia/concord grape juice. The concord flavor completely overpowered the aronia flavor, but the tannins added by the aronia made the concord so much better! I actually have a 3 gallon batch of that in primary right now. I'm hoping the aronia will add some much needed structure to the concord & make a wine that is much less "hoochie" tasting than the concord alone.
Hope something I've said helps. Regards, GF.
 

HillPeople

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Yes- we've made many gallons so far and do more every year.
Fresh and very ripe berries (we have a local farm that has hundreds of bushes), crushed, and use about 4-5 lbs/gal.
Sugar to starting SG of 1.090, fermented on the skins to 1.030 or so, end at .990, no backsweeting.
I usually add FT Rouge at the start.
As mentioned, a good year aging improves it greatly.
 

garymc

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I have some aronia wine and a lot more blended aronia/elderberry and aronia/muscadine in carboys. I also have some bottled. I like it better blended with the other fruits so far, but being aged in the bottle could change that preference. The berries don't contain a lot of juice and are too small to run through my crusher. I freeze them and then mash them up in nylon mesh bags as well as I can by hand or with a potato masher. As they ferment over the course of a week I squeeze the bags by hand. I'm thinking about putting a batch in a blender or Ninja or food chopper. I don't know that the seeds have a particularly bitter taste and they're small enough they might not get cut up too much.
 
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Mead Maker

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My honeybee guru has a hedge of black aronia bushes around his house, and wanted to turn the berries into wine. After the berries were picked, stemmed and washed we froze the whole batch, let them thaw thoroughly, and dumped them into the wine press.

The 20+ gallons of juice were sterilized with sodium metabisulfite, sweetened to 23.5% sugar, and fermented with champagne yeast. The must was pushed with additional sugar whenever the fermentation rate slowed down, stopping naturally when the wine reached 18% alcohol.

I had read that aronia wine will take on the flavor of any wine to which it is added, which I figured would make it ideal for blending. But the bright red color was what I was after. The astringent juice mellowed nicely into a deep red wine after 1 year, and was drinkable after 2 years, although it had little flavor.

When blended with a sweet mead it was gorgeous. My “augmented mead” won blue ribbons in two states and one regional competition. I’m sure it was the beautiful color that put me on top. I’ve also added it to aged red wine which had turned golden, giving it great red color without changing the flavor.

I’ve ordered 25 black aronia bushes for my own use in the future.
 

garymc

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My honeybee guru has a hedge of black aronia bushes around his house, and wanted to turn the berries into wine. After the berries were picked, stemmed and washed we froze the whole batch, let them thaw thoroughly, and dumped them into the wine press.

The 20+ gallons of juice were sterilized with sodium metabisulfite, sweetened to 23.5% sugar, and fermented with champagne yeast. The must was pushed with additional sugar whenever the fermentation rate slowed down, stopping naturally when the wine reached 18% alcohol.

I had read that aronia wine will take on the flavor of any wine to which it is added, which I figured would make it ideal for blending. But the bright red color was what I was after. The astringent juice mellowed nicely into a deep red wine after 1 year, and was drinkable after 2 years, although it had little flavor.

When blended with a sweet mead it was gorgeous. My “augmented mead” won blue ribbons in two states and one regional competition. I’m sure it was the beautiful color that put me on top. I’ve also added it to aged red wine which had turned golden, giving it great red color without changing the flavor.

I’ve ordered 25 black aronia bushes for my own use in the future.
You will find they are easily propagated by layering. I also just cut off some almost pencil diameter cuttings and stuck them in the ground in late February (zone 7 SE Missouri.) The layers were just about 100 percent success and the cuttings were more like 40%.
 
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