Growing your own food is easier with a polytunnel. Once you have begun to increase the crops that you are able to grow, you could begin to consider some of the smallholding skills that will allow you to make the most of your polytunnel produce. One of these skills is winemaking. In this article, we will discuss how to make wine from the things you have grown in your polytunnel garden.
What Produce Can Be Used To Make Wine?
Grapes are one of the things that can be grown in a polytunnel in the UK – the most common fruit used in winemaking around the world. If you have a large polytunnel, you could have your very own vineyard, even in areas that would not allow wine grapes to be grown easily outdoors.
It is important to remember, however, that grapes are not the only ingredient that can be used to make wine. You could also consider making wine from:
- raspberries, blackberries, Boysonberries or Tayberries
- Redcurrants or whitecurrants
- melons or watermelons
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many more unusual fruit wine ingredients that can be grown in a polytunnel. Some smallholders have also had success when using pea pods and other vegetable ingredients to make a range of home-made wines. Such wines do have a unique (and not always enjoyed) flavour, but some people do love them. It could be worthwhile experimenting to get a valuable yield from waste material that would otherwise end up on your compost heap.
How To Make Home-Made Wines
In order to make home-made wine from polytunnel produce you will need:
- A large quantity of fruit or other produce from your polytunnel or elsewhere in your garden.
- Suitable containers to store, ferment and age your wine. (A wine making kit could be a good idea for beginners).
- Winemaking equipment such as a thermometer, hydrometer and sterilising additives.
The exact proportions of ingredients required, and the lengths of time taken at each stage of the process will depend on the recipe and fruits that you use. You can find many specific recipes easily by searching online. In general, however, the wine making process will involve:
- Picking, sorting and cleaning all the fruits/ other ingredients you require.
- Cleaning and sterilising all the equipment.
- Combining fruits/ other ingredients/ sugar with wine making yeast.
- Allowing fermentation to take place and watching bubbles coming through the airlock.
- Stabilising and clearing the wine.
- Siphoning wine off the sediment and decanting into bottles.
- Corking bottles and adding labels etc..
- Leaving the wine to mature if desired. (A period of maturation is advised for most wines).
Winemaking can be a tricky business for beginners, but could save you a lot of money on drinks for your household and for special occasions if you are able to refine the process.
Have you made your own home-made wine? Let us know how it tasted, and whether the experiment was a success in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.