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Davis Journal

The art and craft of locally made wine

Feb 01, 2024 09:56AM ● By Kiana Fonua Williams
A wine rack filled with bottles of locally hand crafted wine from The Hive in their local shop. Photo by Kiana Fonua Williams

A wine rack filled with bottles of locally hand crafted wine from The Hive in their local shop. Photo by Kiana Fonua Williams

It’s no easy task to hand craft wine in Northern Utah. There are many factors that come into play when it comes to homemade wine and spirits with cooler weather. Warmer climates are essentially best for making wine. Sunshine and consistent weather aid for longer fall ripening period that produce wines that possess fuller bodies and flavors. Grapes ripen faster and accumulate more sugars, which result in high alcohol levels during fermentation. The Hive Winery and Spirits Company in Layton is beating the odds and creating the most remarkable wines locally in Davis County. Not making a traditional grape wine because of the Northern region in Utah, they have put their focus on what does do well in this area. Lori Yahne, owner and founder of The Hive Winery and Spirits Company, shares her passion for designing and producing Utah made wine. 

Surprisingly, she said that other fruits can be an excellent source to make wine, not just grapes. Northern Utah is ideal for fruits such as peaches, raspberries, black currents, cherries, and honey that make for a flavorful core-based wine. Apricots, pears, and apples are sourced locally from Willard and Santaquin with the biggest production time of the year being middle of July to the end of September when the fruit is ripe and at their peak. “We branch out sometimes, and we do use some fruits that are not local, a bit of outsourcing. But we stay true and start as local as we can,” she said. 

The biggest difference in a traditional grape wine and a fruit wine is the amount of natural occurring sugars. In grapes, the natural occurring sugar is very high, which can provide a 12 to 13 percent alcohol content when they are fermented. Fruits such as peaches have half the about of natural sugars and that ends up with a lower percentage wine, unless supplemented with additional sugar at the beginning of the fermentation process. Making the alcohol in wine generates strictly by how much sugar the yeast has to eat. “Simply, fermentation is yeast eating sugar,” Yahne said. Yeast microbes dine on the sugar and extract out into alcohol is what fermentation chemically becomes. That process of converting sugar to alcohol creates the best wine. 

The fermentation procedure alone, only takes a few weeks. It takes wine usually seven to 14 days on fermentation. Meads take longer and can take up to two months because of the honey, honey is a more complex sugar making it harder for the yeast to digest. Once the wine is finished fermenting, it’s not quite ready to drink because of how raw and young it is. Most home brewers make the mistake of quickly fermenting and bottling immediately. The best wine is left in bulk in a maturation tank for 12 to 18 months before they are properly finished and bottled, making wine such an art of patience and pristine preparation. Some seasonal batches have to be infused in July to be ready for the holiday seasons. Planning several months to a year in advance, making smaller and signature batches a rare taste for each year. Yahne shares a pro tip when searching for locally distilled and locally made spirits. When the label is “distilled by” and bottled by, in theory, only companies that distill on site are able to identify making it original