Jonathan and Denise >
Our Gooseberry 2018 harvest kicked off in the last week of June, and finished about six weeks later. (That’s pretty much the same every year, or at least it is so here in Uist.) First to be picked, Invicta starts green, turns bronze with blushings of red-brown, and finally turns deep red-brown all over. It’s harvested at both of the changes : the first harvest is for culinary uses ; the second is for desert uses. Leveller and Careless provide the bulk of our harvest, mostly early to mid July: these large green fruit are perfect for freezing for culinary use during the winter, for inclusion in jams, and above all for wine-making, which results in delightfully crisp light white wine, which could easily be mistaken for a good white grape wine.
Black Velvet is a red gooseberry, not very big, but exceptionally sweet and tasty. We use these for making jellies, and for mixing with green gooseberries to add depth of colour, flavour and sweetness. Wines made purely with Black Velvet have a wonderful flavour and colour, but can be too sweet for our taste : this year we have made a Black Velvet wine, but have used half the quantity of (added) sugar that’s recommended in recipes for gooseberry wine.
Most of our finished wines go into ‘bag in a box’ containers, which have the advantages of simplicity and economy in storage ; they also help to limit us to one glass each per occasion! For those more occasional occasions, however, we bottle some of the wine : this year we’re experimenting with re-purposed olive-oil bottles.
In case you’re wondering : Whilst gooseberries made into jams jellies and chutneys are sold in the The Hebridean Woolshed‘s garden-shop; our wines are not for sale – they’re all for just us two!!