Ash-Bark Wines, Sherries, and/or Meads

Mountain Ash Wine

April 5, 2001

The American mountain ash (Sorbus americana) and decorative mountain ash (Sorbus decora) are the two major species indigenous to North America. Other species are the Greene mountain ash (Sorbus scopulina) and Sitka mountain Ash (Sorbus sitchensis). The European Mountain Ash, (Sorbus aucuparia), also known as the rowan or rowanberry, is similar to but not identical with its American cousins.

The fruit of Sorbus americana is a berry that grows in clusters, measures about a half-centimeter in diameter, and ripens in August to a bright red. It is quite sour until after a frost, when it suddenly becomes edible. The fruit of Sorbus decora is slightly larger, ripens to an orange to orange-red, and is quite a bit tastier than the former but still much better tasting after a frost.

The fruit makes a pretty good wine. If the wine is made early (before a frost), one will always taste the wildness of the fruit. If made with frost-tempered fruit, the wine will be very good.

  • 5 lbs mountain ash berries
  • 1 lb 13 oz finely granulated sugar (older recipe called for 2-1/2 lbs sugar1)
  • 7-1/4 pts water
  • 1 large lemon (zest and juice only)
  • 1/2 sp pectic enzyme
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • Montrachet wine yeast

Put sugar in water and put water on to boil. Meanwhile, wash and sort berries for soundness, and crush them in primary. When water boils, stir well to dissolve sugar and pour boiling water into primary. Cover primary and set aside until cool. Add zest and juice of one large lemon, pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient, stir and wait 12 hours. Add wine yeast, wait until fermentation sets in, and stir daily for a week. Strain into secondary and fit airlock. Rack every 4 months, bottling after third racking. Store bottles one year before tasting. Well worth the time invested. [Adapted from Steven A. Krause’s Wines from the Wilds ]