With Christmas around the corner, many are probably thinking about gifts for co-workers, neighbors, or something to bring along to the next holiday party. Brandeberry Winery in Enon, Ohio, is a great place to pick up locally produced wines that can help fill these needs.
I visited the Brandeberry Winery with my wife just before Thanksgiving, and because we did, we were able to include cranberry wine as part of our holiday table. This winery is a bit off the beaten path, just outside of Yellow Springs on a country road. Jim Brandeberry, owner, grower, and winemaker, told me that this was a concern as his business developed from a hobby to a profession.
“I started as an amateur winemaker in 1994,” he said. When he retired in 2005, his production had grown to 200 gallons per year, the maximum for a hobbyist. In addition, Jim collected more than 50 medals in competitions over those years.
After exploring a partnership with Young’s Dairy, and considering a site in an industrial park, he concluded that he would establish the winery at his own 10 acre farm, in spite of its location. “We’re zoned agriculture here,” he said. “I asked the town zoning guy what I needed to do to open a winery here, and he said, ‘Well, I don’t know, we don’t have any wineries in town. I’ll ask my boss.’” Eventually, after conversation with state officials, it was confirmed that a winery is indeed an agricultural use, so Jim expanded his vineyard from 150 vines to 350, and the wine shop was built.
Visiting there, the first thing I noticed was the location, but, during the tasting, it was clear there were other reasons to be glad to have found this place. There’s a great selection of fruit wines, and there are two Rieslings, medium dry and sweet. These are unusual at Ohio wineries.
Some of these fruit wines, such as Pink Passion, which is a blend of cherry and grape wines, were holdovers from Jim’s amateur days. He grows some cherries at the vineyard. Blackberry, however, is a more recent addition.
He was waiting for juice of a certain new varietal to be ready at his supplier, since he didn’t have enough of his own. But, in the end, the supplier didn’t have any either, and blackberry juice was substituted. Blackberry wine sold out quickly, and soon became one of the most popular varieties.
Jim sets aside some juice to use as a sweetener. One day, when bottling Riesling, he tasted some that has 1 1/2% residual sugar, and he liked it a lot. “My wife has a sweeter palate than I do,” he said, and she wanted the wine to be sweeter. “So I bottled some as it was, then sweetened the rest” until it was at around 5%, and then bottled that, too.
There are many varieties of wine available that I haven’t had time to mention, and I urge readers to visit.