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Back By Popular Demand—The Foxfire Book of Winemaking

originally published November 2008 in Georgia Mountain Laurel

"Wine is the most wholesome beverage in the world.
That goes back to the Bible. The Lord gave Paul
grapes and told him to make wine."
—Bill Park

"Blackberry wine is good for the tummyache
and it's a good cure for diarrhea, too. My mother
used to keep it all the time. It only took a little—
I'd say a quarter of a cup."
—Mary Pitts

From student author Kelly Shropshire's introduction to The Foxfire Book of Winemaking:

For many people of the Appalachian mountains, winemaking is as much a part of their culture as the mountains themselves. Made from the fruits and berries native to the land, homemade wine has been used for everything from curing stomachaches to cooking and, of course, just plain drinking.

Many early settlers came to the South and brought with them the ancient methods of winemaking. Despite admonitions against the evils of strong drink by Bible Belt preachers, winemaking caught on. Over the years, many unique winemaking methods, as well as types, have evolved. There are those like Lawton Brooks, who use the natural yeast on the fruit itself to make their muscadine wine. And others, like Granny Toothman, who refuse to make their wine in anything but a stone jar. Blackberry, dandelion, corncob—the types of Appalachian wines are as diverse as the people who make them.

We first became interested in winemaking during preparation of The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. We began learning of mountain people who still made their own wines at home from the fruit they had grown themselves. Here was something we’d never done before—a documentation of winemaking in the southern Appalachian mountains. Toting tape recorders and cameras, we set out on our interviews—and we usually found ourselves directly involved in the winemaking process. We gathered grapes for Bill Park, crushed blackberries for Harry Pitts, and gutted a pumpkin for Effie Lord. We found that the various types of wine were endless—as John Bulgin puts it, "You can make wine out of anything but a rock."

Now, we offer to you our finished product. This is a book for the amateur winemaker interested in learning the skill, as well as for the experienced winemaker interested in unearthing the roots of winemaking in this region. And most important, in the tradition of Foxfire, this is a book intended to preserve a small piece of our heritage and to pass along the traditions of the people of the Southern Appalachian mountains.

The Foxfire Book of Winemaking contains stories from over 25 Foxfire contacts, informative sections on winemaking equipment, ingredients, and procedures, and over 30 unique recipes for wines and juices—including blackberry, corncob, dandelion, elderberry, and rhubarb wines, along with many more-traditional grape wine recipes. There are even more diverse recipes for mead and persimmon beer tucked within the book as well—a truly unique offering from Foxfire.

Once again in print, 21 years after its initial release, The Foxfire Book of Winemaking is available directly from Foxfire for $14.95 (plus S&H). Visit to order a copy for yourself and one to share with a friend, or contact Foxfire at 706-746-5828 for wholesale purchasing information.

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