Asparagus wine? Why not, Michigan producers say

on 05/04/11 at 10:43 am

Wine

Michigan grows asparagus. Michigan makes wine.

Now comes a twist in agritourism ingenuity — asparagus wine.

“It has a mild asparagus aroma and flavor with a little hint of sweetness,” says Kellie Fox of the Fox Barn Market & Winery in Shelby, near Pentwater. “And it is really clear.”

Admitting that asparagus wine sounds, well, pretty awful, Fox says it all started when her husband, Todd Fox, gave her a challenge.
“He twisted my arm. He brought home a tub of mashed asparagus and said, `Do something with this.’ So I added water and sugar and yeast, and it started fermenting.

“It did not smell great.”

The next new thing The Foxes own a 1,700-acre orchard and farm near the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, and Todd Fox is the fourth-generation owner. They grow sweet and tart cherries, peaches, pears, apples, plums, blueberries and grapes. But their farm also is smack in the middle of Michigan’s asparagus belt, Oceana County, so they grow that, too.

Like many Michigan farms, the Foxes’ property has evolved from a purely commercial operation to include a farm market, and in the last eight years, a winery. They make mostly fruit wines from their cherries, peaches and pears but always are looking for new agritourism products.

Michigan has at least 645 agritourism businesses contributing $23 million each year to the economy.

The state has 71 wineries.

Fox Barn is definitely not one of the largest.

“I will make 600 cases a year, so we’re pretty small,” says Kellie Fox, 39.

It is possible someone has thought of asparagus wine before, but asparagus expert John Bakker has never heard of it.

“I’d like to get a bottle — at least to keep on my counter,” says Bakker, executive director of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board. “I love asparagus, but I don’t know if I’d drink — well, I might try it.”

{Full story via Chicago Tribune}

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