Most of us are familiar with the concept of U-pick when it comes to in-season, fruit harvesting.
Maybe you did it as a kid with your parents. Or perhaps it was a summer job.
Now, you can turn the U-pick experience into a way of producing a truly unique fruit wine or cider.
That’s because Westview U-Vin-U-Brew’s “You Pick, We Brew” concept has customers bring in their own fruit - from backyard berries to store-bought apples - and use it in developing a fruit wine or cider.
“With all the old-growth fruit trees here in Powell River, many people end up with all of this fruit in their gardens and they don’t know what to do with it,” says Westview U-Vin-U-Brew’s Jeremy East. “They can’t hope to bake enough pies with them and end up turning much of it into their compost. So, this is an interesting option because you can put that overabundance of fruit to good use and make all kinds of different wines and ciders.”
To date, East has helped transform a variety of fruits - apples, pears, plums, blackberriesand locally grown grapes - into wine and cider.
“But probably the weirdest one was a fig and banana,” he says with a laugh. “It actually came out quite nice. The banana almost lent itself to the overall texture of the wine. And you could really get the flavour of the fig, especially through the aroma. It smelled like a freshly cut fig.
“Essentially, you bring me fruit that has sugar in it, and we will see what we can do.”
But compared to traditional wine kit production, there is some additional work the customer needs to do to prepare the fruit.
“They have to cut the larger fruits (apples, pears, plums) into sections - halved or quartered - then bag and freeze them until you are ready to start the process,” East says.
Generally, the amount of fruit required to produce a 23-litre U-Brew batch ranges from 40 to 60 pounds.
If you happen to be short on your own fruit, customers can add it to a wine kit for a nicely blended product.
As for how long it takes before you can enjoy your unique creation, East says that can depend on the type and quality of fruit used.
“A general rule of thumb with any wine is three to six months-plus,” he says. “Many of our customers age them about a year. So, those bringing me fruit now, this is the wine they will be drinking next summer.”
For more information about WestviewU-Vin-U-Brew’s You Pick, We Brew option, visit prbrews.ca.