Blood Sweat & Fear Elderflower

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Senior Member
Feb 2, 2009
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I had read that this was one of Luc's wines. In the mean time, I have made 25 Gallons in 5 different batches from last years berries. So I have been getting giddy waiting for the blossoms. So Sat. was my day to be able to go and pick. At 7:00 AM I am in my truck for a 15 mile ride to where I pick ( a four mile stretch of RR tracks with thousands of bushes.). Halfway there I remember that i didn't spray myself for chiggers, mosquitoes and ticks. I think Oh well they don't eat much. Five miles away it starts to sprinkle rain. Oh it might not be raining there. Or maybe it will quit. I get to my spot,drive the length of the area scoping out the plants and formulating my strategy. I get out of the truck, line my 5 gallon bucket with a plastic sack, grab my shears and take a last long draw on the coffee cup. I wade down the ditch and back up towards the tracks. My God it's humid. But not raining. I approach the first bunch of bushes and the mosquitoes hit me. Keep moving. I start to clip the fragrant screens of blossoms. It starts to sprinkle again. Clip clip and clip some more. Trying to hurry and I am in a full sweat. An believe me this fat boy knows how to sweat. Take off my glasses cause I can't see through the sweat. eClip clip clip, almost a half a bucket. Now some of these bushes are 8 foot tall and many of the screens are right on the top. I am reaching just as high as I can pulling the branches over to where I can clip off the flowers. It is raining now. Well at least the mosquitoes have gone away. The sweat in my eyes is now replaced with steamy rain. Clip clip clip. I really can't see what I am doing very well. Cutting by feel now. Then I feel pain. In reaching way up a plant holding on to the flowers I cut myself with a very sharp pair of garden shears. I pull back an already bloody finger tip. ( Expletive deletieves pour like rain.) I cut my same finger in the exact same place last fall picking berries. Dumb butt.
I wrap a bandanna around my finger and continue to clip away. One bucket full. Lots of blood all around the white plastic bag lining the bucket. Go back to the truck to changes liners. Raining harder now. Blood is getting all over everything I touch. Dig out the first aid kit and find some really old band-aids. They won't stick to my wet bloody digit. Dig around the truck and find a roll of duct tape. That works.
Back into the bushes. clip clip clip. Then a cold front moved by. The temp dropped 20 degrees in about 5 minuets. God this feels good. Then it really started raining hard. I could only see about a quarter of a mile across the valley. I go back and sit in the truck thinking that it might let up a bit. Wrong.
Well I am soaked to the bone and I know that this my only chance to get out and pick these precious flowers. So I pulled the truck forward a couple hundred feet and hopped out in the pouring rain. I filled my next two bags full with little further problems. Took off my totally drenched Tee shirt got in the pick-up and started for home. I had thrown my cargo of flowers on the floorboard. The bags were only drawn closed somewhat tight. Now I am driving down the highway with several hundred Lightning bugs flying around my cab. Can't open the window because it is raining so hard. This was very interesting.
Back in the shop I realize that I have quite a bit of water in my bags (Well Duh). So I set up a couple of sawhorses and a piece of plywood across them.I empty my jewels onto the table and try to get the majority of the water to flow off the edge. The rest of the lightning bugs go flying off to the recesses of the shop. Leaving behind a litany of other crawlies. Little green worms.leaf hoppers, stinkbugs,three kinds of spiders and tons of little beetles about the size of a pin head. I fluff up my piles of screens and pull off the major offenders. I let a fan blow across the pile for a couple of hours. Then I put the flowers back into the now dry bags. Left behind on the table was a lot of separated flowers. I sorted, screened and sifted off about a gallon and a half of flowers. I put them in zip-locks and into the freezer.
Over the next two days I have processed another two and a half gallons.

This is one third of my efforts.

On my second effort I found that there was a lot of little pre-berries and un-opened buds. So I took a colander and sifted these off and trashed them.

Do the rest of you screen off these little buggers? I know that the green parts of the plants are quite bitter. And can impart undesired flavors. So am I as anal as I think I am? Obviously no answer is needed for the last question.
So the end of this too long rambling, is that I have 12 gallons in primaries ready for yeast. I used Lucs recipe except I used golden seedless raisins instead of apple concentrate. And I put in a little peptic enzyme to play with the raisins.
I have enough frozen flowers to make 8 more 5 gallon batches. Everyone states that they didn't make enough so I am more than prepared. I Will probably give quite a bit of these away.

I hope this turns out as good as everyone says in what I read. This has been the most labor intensive wine that I have attempted.
If it aint no good I will be in tears.


Fruit Fears Me
Jan 7, 2009
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I kept the little unopened buds in mine and i didn't notice any bitterness--just a very lemony taste and beautiful cream color as I racked for the 1st time Saturday. Our flower picking was similar, but fire ants tried winning the war. We had a lot of creepy crawleys in our's, too...back felt like it was breaking after sifting through all those tiny flowers. We only made a 5 gallon batch...our 1st of this flower. Hope it's worth it! We said the same thing about the berries, though, after fighting all the stink bugs, and the wine was definitely worth it!


Senior Member
WMT Supporter
Dec 28, 2009
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Sounds like you had an interesting day in the elderberry fields....