Wild Grape Vineyard Stanstead, Quebec, Canada

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Aug 29, 2020
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Hi to all, new here and I’m from Stanstead Quebec, Canada.
When I was 14 (44 years ago, ouf) I made wine with a neighbor in the fall for two years. The first year we went to Jean-Talon Market in Montreal and bought several cases of grapes (Cariginac) from France. The wine that year was soso if I remember correctly. The second year, my neighbor who used to work in a hospital in Montreal-East, he notices people going over to the fences around the hospital and this drew his curiosity. To his amazement he found that there were wild grapes growing there and we decided that fall we would make wine with wild grapes instead of using imported grapes.IMG_6615.JPG

We really didn’t do anything very special, making the wine in our cold cellar, we had a old open top oak drum which we used to do our primary fermentation with the grapes pulp for several weeks (I’d have to stir twice a day), from there we transferred the juice into glass jugs with airlock vales on top and it would stay there (a month or maybe more?) until hydrometer reached a level I can’t remember and we were ready to bottle.
That second year we made something special, deep red in color and the wine had a rich body taste vs what we had made the first year. We had several people taste the wine and the feedback was pretty good. My uncle in Toronto who was from Austria and who wrote articles on wine for the Toronto Star on wine said he liked it, told me to cut down on my sugar and take out the grape seeds when fermenting. I’ve long lost our recipe for our mix but we had that Oak drum that was half full or maybe a little more (100-120 liters) and we had maybe 3-4 cases for wild grapes, white sugar bag may two and the rest was water and of course some yeast. As much as I can remember.....?....I thought the wine was pretty good, but of course at 14 most booze taste good.IMG_6618.JPG

Over all these years I’ve always had in the back of my mind to someday make some wine with wild grapes again as I’ve always felt there was something originally tasteful to be done with these grapes. In Quebec there are a few good little whites for summer drinking but the red’s I’ve tasted to date aren’t very palatable. (being polite) The strains of grapes that grow in our cold region challenge the making of good wine let alone a great wine.
This past spring in lock down from Covid-19, I decided to make the jump and plant a vineyard. I’ve cleared off part of a hill at my ranch near my stables and I’ve planted 120 vines of wild grapes which I potted from seed this past spring. I have another 100 pots growing now that I plan to plant next spring to finish the initial part of my vineyard. I’ve planted my vines 20 feet apart so that they will spread 10 feet on each side from the stem along the wire. To maximise my space and to experiment, I’ve pulled wires at 6 and 4 feet high, thus enabling me to plant vines every 10 feet alternating heights, hopefully increasing my production. Have to see how that works.

So here is where I need help with my folly! LOL Would anyone have some experience with wine making using “Wild Grapes” ?? What mix do you use? Hmmm, pounds of destemmed or stemmed grapes to gallons of water? I know using a hydrometer and adjusting my quantity of sugar will affect the alcohol content in my wine but, what do you do? Do you have a fixed quantity of sugar you use? Any insight or tips on the process, fermentation times, aging, etc.??
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I’m heading down to Montreal-East in the coming weeks to pick some wild grapes and hopefully I can start a few test batches with different mixtures to see if I can produce a wine with some potential. I have lots of acreage to expand my vineyard but before I go too far let’s see what this fall brings with my test batches. I’ll certainly need help along the way and hopefully forum members can point me in the right direction. Let me know your thoughts, ideas, advice, tips, any help is much appreciated! Many thanks, Sean.

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