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Intro To Hillbilly Wine Making 101

In the first Foxfire Book, the recipe for wine is a simple one:

About a half bushel of Muscadine grapes, and just a massive amount of sugar.

A couple of things to know about making wild wine from foraged fruit is…it can get mighty interesting. Here in Missouri, we have eight varieties of wild grapes and one plant that looks quite a bit like grapes if you don’t know what you’re looking for- and you don’t want to eat this or make wine with it.

Menispermum canadense, or moonseed might make you look twice. It might make you think you’ve stumbled on something pretty great in your foraging. Until you eat a bunch of it and then, you begin convulsing until you die.


Moonseed has dauricine in it which really, just doesn’t make a very good wine unless you’re giving it to someone you aren’t particularly fond of. The way to know the difference, if you have a hard time just on sight- open it up and look at the seed. Moonseed’s called moonseed because…well, its seed is crescent shaped, like…yeah. Moving on.

Wild grapes are a terrific find because well, you can eat them, you can use them to make juices and wine. The leaves actually aren’t bad in a salad and, if you’ve got a lot of wild grapes growing around, chances you have quail are also pretty good.

Though there are about eight varieties of wild grape here in Missouri, two types you may want to give a pass on are fox grapes and river grapes. Though all wild grapes are smaller, rougher and more tart than their cultivated relatives- and these certainly won’t kill you: they taste like butt.

Some people like the taste, I don’t. They’re way, way too tart and might make a fun accent flavor to toss in, but I have not tried this.

Apart from wild grapes, you can also go with any number of wild berries. This year, with all the rain, our blackberries are probably going to be insane and I’d be really remiss if I didn’t put up a few bottles.

In this series, I will go into a couple of more common recipes you can use, techniques and tricks that will enable you to wander off into the woods and hopefully, make you some mighty fine booze. Next up, however, is going to be about the real winemaker: yeast.

For the purposes of this series, mainly, brevity- I will be working with blackberries to make a somewhat full bodied sweet blackberry wine. I will be using a basic recipe with my preferred yeast, but not documenting my personal recipe (That’s a secret and you cannot has.).


Go to the next post in the series, here.

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