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Agarita Berries


"A unique, southwestern native wine."

The red-fruited, prickly-leaved barberry is native in one variety or another throughout most of North America. In the southwestern United States, the Berberis trifoliolata, called algerita in Spanish and agarita in Texas, grows as shrubs a few feet high and produces blood-red berries with a high acid content that ripen in mid to late spring. These same plants are also called Mountain Holly and Sour Berry. Other types of barberries are described, along with a wine recipe, on my page dedicated to Barberries.

Agaritas grow wild along fences and in brush country and are recognized by their resemblance to holly, with shiny leaves and red berries. Their prickly leaves discourage picking, but they can be easily harvested by spreading an old sheet under the bush and then hitting the bush with a stick. The ripe berries will readily detach themselves from their branches, along with dead leaves and probably numerous bugs. When you've collected about 4 pounds of berries, separate the berries from the debris and head for home. The first recipe makes a potent dessert wine. The second makes a nice table wine.


AGARITA WINE (1)

Wash, destem and crush (mash) the berries. You can also put then in a blender with a cup of water and puree them. Put them in primary with water, half the sugar, the citric acid, yeast nutrient, and the crushed Campden tablet. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover with cloth, and wait 12 hours. Add pectic enzyme, recover, and wait another 12 hours. Add yeast, recover, and stir daily for 7 days. Separate pulp by pouring through a nylon straining bag, squeezing gently. Add remainder of sugar, stir well to dissolve, and pour juice into secondary. Top up and fit with airlock. Ferment 30 days, rack and top up, then rack again every 3 weeks until wine clears. Stabilize, wait additional 10 days, rack if required, then bottle. May taste after 6 months. [Author's own recipe]


AGARITA WINE (2)

Wash, destem and crush (mash) the berries. You can also put then in a blender with a cup of water and puree them. Put them in primary with water, half the sugar, the citric acid, yeast nutrient, and the crushed Campden tablet. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover with cloth, and wait 12 hours. Add pectic enzyme, recover, and wait another 12 hours. Add yeast, recover, and stir daily for 7 days. Separate pulp by pouring through a nylon straining bag, squeezing gently. Add remainder of sugar, stir well to dissolve, and pour juice into secondary. Top up and fit with airlock. Ferment 30 days, rack and top up, then rack again every 3 weeks until wine clears and all evidence of fermentation is history. Stabilize, wait additional 10 days, sweeten if desired, then bottle. May taste after 6 months. [Author's own recipe]

Also see Barberry Wine



Last update was November 2nd, 2000.


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