Huckleberry Wines, Sherries, and/or Meads

Huckleberry Wine

April 5, 2001

Huckleberries, a species related to the blueberry but with its own genus (Gaylussacia baccata), are jet black when ripe, are generally devoid of bloom (wild yeast), and have 10 seeds each. They grow in woods and thickets and cleared wildlands from Canada to Louisiana. Where blueberries grow wild, many people pick huckleberries without realizing they are a separate berry altogether.

The Box Huckleberry (Gaylussacia brachycera), a native of the mountains of Pennsylvania and Tennessee, is even more easily confused with the blueberry because its fruit are blue rather than black, but they still have the tell-tale 10 seeds. It is a low mounding plant that spreads by underground stems. Its leaves are bright green, thick and leathery, turning bronze-red in winter.

  • 4 lbs huckleberries
  • 1-3/4 lbs sugar (earlier recipe called for 2-1/2 lbs sugar1)
  • 1-1/2 tsp acid blend
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 crushed Campden tablet
  • 7-1/4 pts water
  • 1 pkt Champagne wine yeast

Put water on to boil. Meanwhile, sort and wash the berries, discarding any not sound or ripe. Put the huckleberries in a primary and mash them with a sanitized potato masher or piece of hardwood. Add sugar to primary and pour boiling water over berries and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Cover with sanitized cloth and set aside to cool to room temperature. When cool, add remaining ingredients except yeast. Stir, recover primary and set aside 24 hours. Add activated yeast. When fermentation is vigorous, stir twice daily for 10 days. Strain through a nylon straining bag without squeezing. Drip drain 30-45 minutes and pour juice into secondary. Attach airlock and set aside. Rack every 60 days for 6 months, topping up and refitting airlock each time. At last racking, rack into bottles or stabilize, sweeten to taste, wait 10 days, and rack into bottles. This will be a very smooth wine. [Adapted from Steven A. Krause’s Wines from the Wilds” ]