Tongue River Winery         

                       Quality Made Wines with fruit exclusively from the Northern Plains!  


First official wine on the way!

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Sandcherries.  We have 150 sandcherries planted last year with a lot of small fruit, and 48 sandcherries planted 3 years ago with a good amount of large fruit (some more than a half-inch.)


Sandcherries (Prunus besseyi) are actually more related to plums than cherries according to the experts, but they taste like an astringent black cherry, much like  a chokecherry.  In fact, they resemble giant chokecherries in appearance and flavor more than anything else.  They are a beautiful white-blossoming bush in the spring, and a weighted down, sprawling shrub in early August, covered with black and sometimes maroon and rarely yellow fruit.

There are those who make pies from sandcherries, but they're really not quite big enough.  But for jelly and wine....aah!  The bird netting went over them two weeks ago so WE could get the crop!


I have been picking them since August 1, a few each day, choosing only cherries from the highest, sunlit branches on the ripest plants.  At this rate, the harvest might spread over three weeks.  But I want to get a few gallons fermenting so that I can have an early wine-tasting available in September when we hope to open.


High tannin fruits can be done up as "quick wines" because the tannin helps the wine clarify quickly.  It's possible to have a crystal clear, dark red/maroon sandcherry or chokecherry wine three weeks from picking!  A bit rough, but that's what new wine is all about.  Sweetness masks some of the roughness, so we'll present it as both a sweet and dry wine.


If any of you local folks have sandcherries or other fruit (chokecherries, raspberries, apples, grapes) you don't want, let us know!  We'd be glad to turn it into refreshing Montana wine!