My grandfather took me on as the chokecherry wine apprentice when I was 8 years old and actually took over the franchise (one less thing for him to do) for a number of years. No science or wine making knowledge and some years it was very good and some years barely drinkable depending on the temperature of the house and how much wild yeast found its way In with the bread yeast used to make it.

We dumped boiling water over the berries to kill off the wild yeast. Today I would use cambden tablets if I felt it necessary but I don't. I think the boiling to extract the juice or the steam extractor give it a medicine taste and only do that to make pancake/ice cream syrup or jelly.

When picking for syrup or jelly, I pick them when the berries are still red and firm. For wine/mead I like them black and soft. The birds love the berries and you can expect an onslaught once they start to ripen. Here, there are more berries than birds or bears or raccoons or skunks. By the scat you can see that everyone is eating them in season. The indiians pounded them pits and all into a paste and mixed it with meat and tallow to make pemmican which I have tasted and only tastes good on very cold sub zero days when you are snowshoeing or otherwise playing mountain man or indian. I am sure it kept people from getting scurvy in the winter months.

I am looking forward to rinsing cappings until I get to hydrometer reading 1.125 and adding freshly picked black ripe chokecherries with a half pound of raisins and 10MG of KIV-1116 or RC212. I might make a batch with EC-1118 but it will need put away for about three years before it is any good. Here the drive to the mountains takes longer than the picking. I can fill a five gallon bucket in 45 minutes on a good unharvested patch. You have a month to pick them here. Just keep going higher up the hill.