"I have two trees I am told are North Star Cherries. Can you tell me how to make wine from them?" Rachael Williams, Pine Lake, Wisconsin.
The North Star Cherry is an excellent cherry for a dry wine. It is a sour cherry parented by a Siberian cherry and an English Morello. It has thin red skin, red flesh and red juice with a small, freestone pit making then reasonably easy to de-stone. Pick the cherries at the height of ripeness and (I can hear the groan already) pit them immediately. A cherry pitter makes the job faster, but they are not difficult to de-stone by hand. I recently saw a cherry pitter at an antique store for around $45, but you can find them on eBay for less. It is the shipping that makes them expensive on eBay.
Dissolve sugar in 3 quarts boiling water ahead of time and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, using only ripe fruit, de-stem and pit cherries as soon after picking as is practical. Either (1) freeze the pitted cherries for later use (when thawed, it will be easier to extract their juice) or (2) crush and tie inside a nylon straining bag in primary. Add crushed Campden tablet, acid, and water with dissolved sugar to primary. Cover primary and set aside for 10-12 hours. Add pectic enzyme, recover primary and set aside additional 10-12 hours. Add yeast starter and recover primary. Punch down bag daily, squeezing gently each time, for approximately 10 days. Remove cherries, pressing lightly. Transfer to secondary, top up if required and attach airlock. Rack after 30 days and then every two months until wine clears, topping up and reattaching airlock after eack racking. After wine clears, continue racking every two months until no sediments appear on bottom of secondary. Stabilize, wait 10-14 days, and rack into bottles. Age at least 6 months before tasting, but 12 months is ideal. [Author's own recipe]
My thanks to Rachael Williams of Pine Lake, Wisconsin for this request.