Autumn in Wisconsin is beautiful. People who know me well know that I will take ninety five and humid over a snow storm any day, but I also enjoy when the heat of Summer subsides and Fall ushers in cooler days and longer nights. As a winemaker, Fall brings the frenzy of the harvest and long hours in the wine cellar, but it’s exciting to envision what the next vintage will become. Unless we are aging reds, many of the wines we are working on now will be available by next summer. But there is one special wine we release each Fall that has patiently awaited its debut since this time last year. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Cranberry Blush is about to make its return.
Wisconsin is well known for many things like beer, brats, and cheese curds. As far as fruit farming goes, Wisconsin is not necessarily known for grape production. But Wisconsin is the number one cranberry producing state. In fact, over half of the nation’s cranberries are produced here. So it seemed to make sense that we should produce a wine that was made from cranberries. I learned pretty quickly, however, that wine-making from cranberries was completely different than wine-making from grapes. The first time we attempted to process cranberries, we learned two important things. First, a grape press does not press cranberries. Those little bullets were flying all over the place. Second, once we did have juice, the pH was so low, I knew it would struggle to ferment. So what to do? Fall back on what you know of course.
Cranberry Blush is actually a cranberry and grape wine combination. After playing around a bit, we found that a combination of approximately 70% grape juice and 30% cranberry juice could be processed like it was 100% grape. The percentage of cranberry juice did not lower the pH too drastically but still lent the wine its signature sweet and tart flavor. We found someone who could process raw cranberries for us, delivering fresh cranberry juice and eliminating the need to purchase a different piece of equipment. And with that, Cranberry Blush was born. Because it pairs so well with Thanksgiving but the batches we make are small, we hold the release each year until Fall. So this coming Saturday, Cranberry Blush will take center stage, but only for a short time. And then like Fall, it will be gone for another year. And you know what that means…brrrr.
Until next time...Cheers!