Vintners Best Elderberry fruit wine base

Discussion in 'Country Fruit Winemaking' started by winemaker81, Jul 21, 2018.

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  1. winemaker81

    winemaker81 Junior Member

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    I purchased a gallon jug of Vintners Best Elderberry fruit wine base the other day. It was an impulse buy -- i had been thinking about elderberry wine but don't have a source for berries, I was considering using dried berries, but that isn't quite what I want. Then I saw the display in my local supply store ...

    Does anyone have experience with this product line? I didn't read the ingredient list before buying (yes, this was an impulse buy!) so I didn't catch that the it's got more apple juice than elderberry. Regardless, it should be an interesting experiment.

    I'll be starting the wine some time next week, and will post my recipe and status as I go.
     
  2. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    Keep us posted on the progress with it. I've looked at their ingredient list before and it is sad that they do that (Go so heavy on Apple Juice). They aren't really any cheaper either than the 100% stuff. Since Apple Juice is listed first there's a pretty good chance that you got 50% or more Apple Juice & Pear Juice because those two are listed before Elderberry juice. AND it also has corn syrup as well.

    Again good luck with it and let us know how it turns out.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
  3. winemaker81

    winemaker81 Junior Member

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    Even if the base is not exactly what I want, this should prove to be an interesting experiment.

    The bottle directions state to dilute the contents to 5 gallons volume. That won't be enough to fill a carboy, so I purchased a bag of red grape concentrate to extend it. That package says to dilute with 2 to 3 quarts of water -- I'll probably go with 2 and see how the result measures up.

    I haven't made elderberry wine since '87 and have thought about it for years. I used to live in central NY and my parents had a bunch of bushes growing on the edge of a field -- that property is long since sold. I currently live in NC and don't have access to fresh elderberries, so this is at least a step in the right direction.

    I may take this batch in 2 directions at once. 1. Fill a 3.5 gallon carboy and make a table wine with it, either bone dry or off-dry (depending on how dry tastes). 2. Add a high potency yeast to the remainder and feed it sugar until I max out the alcohol potential, then sweeten to make a dessert wine.

    Many moons ago I owned a wine & beer supply shop, and had a customer who made "cranberry cordial" every fall, using the method described above in #2. I've thought about doing that, but haven't -- yet. Cranberry wine may be a fall project ....
     
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  4. Cibb

    Cibb Supporting Members Supporting Member

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    If you like a tart higher acidity wine go with less water than recommended. If you like a smoother finish wine go with the full amount of water.
     
  5. winemaker81

    winemaker81 Junior Member

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    I generally worry more about high acid than low. Adding acid is easier than removing it. In Upstate NY, cold stabilization was simple -- put the wine on the porch for a week and rack while cold. In NC? Not so easy ...

    I'm more concerned, in this case, with having enough liquid to fill the carboy.
     
  6. winemaker81

    winemaker81 Junior Member

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    Elderberry Wine

    1 gallon Vintner's Best Elderberry fruit wine base
    1 liter Global Vintners Inc red grape concentrate
    Bentonite
    5 tsp yeast nutrient
    2 tsp grape tannin
    40 drops liquid pectic enzyme
    1/2 lb toasted oak chips
    Red Star Premier Rouge yeast

    Following diections on the jug, I diluted the elderberry concentrate with 4 gallons water. For the first couple of quarts I used hot tap water to rinse the bottle -- no point in wasting the goodness! The bottle said the SG should be 1.077. I got 1.076, but possible differences in dilution and temperature make this spot on. I was satisfied the label was correct.

    Note: The first ingredient on the label is corn syrup, the second is apple juice, the last is elderberry. The must smells good .... but the next time I do this, I'm going to look for a pure elderberry. It may make no difference, but the purist in me wants 100% elderberry.

    Next added the red grape concentrate. The label said the brix would be 20-22, and I should dilute with 2.8 to 3.2 liters water. I used 2 liters warm tap water, which i used to rinse the bag. Again, no point in wasting the goodness! This brought the SG up to 1.078. I considered chapitalizing it up to 1.085 .... but decided to go with what I have.

    I went with 2 liters instead of 3 as I'm looking for body and the 3/4 gallon extended the batch sufficiently that it will fill my carboy.

    Added bentonite, yeast nutrient, grape tannin (just because), and pectic enzyme. I always add pectic enzyme to fruit wines. I've had to do it enough times when trying to clear the wine that it's simply become a preventative habit. My local shop was out of powder, so I tried the liquid. It's more expensive ($3 vs. $2) but the amount I used was tiny -- this bottle will go bad before I use it up.

    The oak chips were on hand and I decided to add it to see what it would do. Sprinkled the yeast on top.

    Couple of tips:

    1. I purchased a drill-mounted stirring rod some years back. Greatest wine (or beer) making toy ever invented. If this one breaks I'll certainly buy another!

    2. I have a wine thief that can hold a hydrometer. This is the second greatest invention as I can check the SG in a carboy.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention bentonite.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
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  7. pgentile

    pgentile Supporting Members Supporting Member

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    There are a few sources out there, but the one I made in January I used 64oz of pure elderberry concentrate from homewinery.com plus several lbs of dried elderberries. Hoping to do another batch this summer with concentrate and fresh elderberries instead of dried. Wine at six months is very good.

    Your recipe looks good. Very interested how this turns out.

    Now I need to find a thief that fits a hydrometer
     
  8. winemaker81

    winemaker81 Junior Member

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    One of my local shops (American Brewmaster, Raleigh NC) sells the Fermtech line of products. This is the wine thief:

    http://www.fermtech.ca/index.php/sampler/the-thief

    I'm going to consider the homewinery.com elderberry concentrate for next year.
     
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  9. winemaker81

    winemaker81 Junior Member

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    Wine Making Tip:

    I received this tip from a man I consider the best amateur winemaker I have met. I lost contact with him in the late 80's ... sorry I did so.

    Each time the must is stirred in the primary fermenter, wet a clean paper towel liberally with Kmeta water. Carefully wipe the inside of the fermenter down to the level of the must/juice, cleaning up any residue. This eliminates a place where undesireable things can grown. I suspect it also release sulfite into the air inside the primary, which may reduce any airborne contaminents.
     
  10. mainshipfred

    mainshipfred Junior Member Supporting Member

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  11. winemaker81

    winemaker81 Junior Member

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    The thief works well for punching through a cap to get clear liquid to test. Sometimes the hydrometer wants to stick to a side, so I have to jiggle it free. I typically hold the thief in two fingers and let it swing free, so it hangs straight down.
     
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  12. winemaker81

    winemaker81 Junior Member

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    I checked the wine this morning -- it's fermenting merrily! So merrily that it tried to overflow the container -- I'm using a 7 gallon primary with the lid on but no airlock. I'm in NC, and in the summer insects are a real problem. Typically I'd cover the primary loosely with plastic wrap.

    ElderberryOverflow.jpg

    In this case the lid saved me from a mess -- just a bit came out the airlock hole, easly to clean up. I rinsed the lid with water and then kmeta. Wiped down the inside of the fermenter, then wiped it with more kmeta. SG was down to 1.050. I don't normally check this early, but given how vigorous it was fermenting, I got curious.

    BTW: The wine thief started leaking, it wasn't holding the wine. I turned it over and ran hot water into it from the bottom -- I got a tiny chip of oak out. I'll be using that as part of my cleaning procedure each time I use equipment.

    EDIT: I'm messing around with attaching a photo. Embedding the URL from DropBox didn't work, can't figure out how to get rid of the graphic at the bottom.

    Uploading the photo and displaying the thumbnail works, and is not obtrusive. Click the photo to see the larger version.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. pgentile

    pgentile Supporting Members Supporting Member

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    Sounds like your elderberry is off to a good start. Most here put a towel over the primary. Allows gas to escape, some oxygen in for AF and keeps the fruit flies out.
     
  14. ejr

    ejr wine addict

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    I have made many gallons of this I just follow directions then backsweeten with a couple pd of sugar to 1015-1020 then give it a month or 2 to age you can drink it right away but its better with a little time i like a sweet wine. You can not taste alot of the elderberry in it but it is still good, but not like wine made from real elderberries.
     
  15. garymc

    garymc Senior Member

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    Vintners Harvest makes a pure elderberry concentrate. Last I checked it was more expensive than the Vintners Best.
     
  16. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    I've had close call as well with foam over-flow. using ba cloth cover tied down helps since the foam breaks down when pressed against the cloth. Of course it stains the cover but that also let me know what happened without the spill.
     
  17. kyle5434

    kyle5434 Trying to fuse frugal/pragmatic with good results

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    A few months ago I used the Vintner's Harvest concentrate... 1.5 of the big cans each (along with a cup of dried elderberries) in two different 3-gallon batches, one with 71B yeast and one with RC212 as an experiment to see which I preferred in advance of this year's harvest from the bushes in my back yard.

    Speaking of which, just did the first decent harvest today...

     
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  18. Stressbaby

    Stressbaby Just a Member Supporting Member

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    Too bad you don't live in Missouri, the elderberries are going crazy this year. I expect to have all I want just with the plants along my driveway! Picked the first 2# a couple of days ago, and I expect I'll get another 4# today.

    Will be following this thread (even though I make mine directly from fruit). Last year made an elderberry port by step feeding sugar back up to 1.030 twice; it quit fermenting at 1.014, ABV 16%, RS 3.6%. I fortified with everclear to 19% ABV and this port is delicious.
     
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  19. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    Stress That sounds like a wickedly good one.
     
  20. winemaker81

    winemaker81 Junior Member

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    The elderberry has been perking along, but not quite as rapidly as I expected. Checked the SG today and it's 1.020. Another couple of days and I'll move it into a carboy.

    This batch has a lot of glop on the surface, which appears distinctive to elderberry (see the photo). I haven't made elderberry wine since 1988 ... so my memory is hazy, other than scraping green goo off the primary. I assume the glop is related that.

    2018-07-31 16.36.05.jpg

    Since I have NO interest is scraping that out of my racking tube or a carboy, I used a slotted spoon and removed it, along with the toasted oak I added.

    This batch smells really good!
     
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