Yvonne Smith is well known as a coffee roaster for Rock City Coffee (and in fact, was a presenter at Pecha Kucha this past month) but after having guessed the “How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine” photo contest correctly, she decided to put The White Hot Spotlight on yet another creative hobby of hers—winemaking.
About Yvonne: I moved here 13 years ago and this is what the Midcoast has taught me: I can’t imagine living anywhere else; careful what you say because people will pee their pants or spit out their drink very easily around here. Things can get crazy fast, but a good crazy.
Q: Besides coffee roasting, you enjoy wine making. Tell us how you got into it.
A: I started after I moved to Maine and mostly make an old farm-style blueberry wine. My partner had started working for this couple that had a big blueberry farm. They gave me the recipe and the blueberries the first year. It took me a couple of years before I realized this was an older recipe—it may have even come about during Prohibition. Everything in the recipe calls for items that will boost the alcohol content. I started researching and started collecting wine-making books. I now understand where to change the recipe to enhance the flavor, but reduce the alcohol content. I love reading the old recipes—those people were inventive.
Q: What are your secrets?
There are so many different ways to make wine—fruit wine, grape wines. Some are fast and only drinkable for a couple of months—some take a year before they go into the bottle and then age for another year before you can drink them. The only grape wines I do come in kits, so for the fruit wines I usually go and pick the fruit as it’s fresh, mash it up with sugar or honey, add water and yeast, then wait for Mother Nature to work her magic. Or as the Brew Chem 101 book instructs, “let the yeast eat the sugar and poop out alcohol.” I always loved the line, and often use when explaining about brewing.
Q: Is wine making soothing after a day of coffee roasting or is it more difficult?
It is soothing. I mean, my first rule after I make sure all the ingredients are on hand, is to open a bottle of something. Relax, enjoy. I am doing it for myself, and I can spend several days out picking fruit, which can involve spending time with friends, just getting ready to make wine.
Q: Do you do wine tastings for your friends?
A: Yes, friends have tried it, but at one point I had a crappy roommate who was an alcoholic and drank all my wine—so nobody got to try it! Mostly, when I have wine, I will bring a bottle with me to any function that I am invited to. Most of the fruit wines I make are sweeter—my personal preference. So I usually open them for dessert, but they’re also good for Sunday brunches. The blueberry wine is best on hot summer days, when you don't have to go anywhere, just sipping it over a little ice. It totally changes the flavor to something that is really refreshing.
The Killer Convo
This blog is a is a killer roundup of all arts, entertainment, brewery & distillery, food trucks, happy hour happenings in the Midcoast Maine. Feel free to email me anything about Midcoast arts, entertainment & the creative economy.