Sea grape is a tropical plant found throughout the Caribbean. The sea grape is also known as hopwood or horsewood. It is also known as druif. It is a tree, often growing to 40 feet, and not a vine, but it does bear fruit that when ripe is a dark red or purple and does yield juice when pressed. That juice has been turned into jams and wines for residents of the region. The wine is made in small quantities and enjoyed most often during holiday seasons.
Obtain from a local brew store or an online retailer the yeast nutrient, wine yeast, Camden tablet and other wine-making supplies. Clean and stem 6 to 8 quarts of sea grapes. Remove any that are unripe. Place in a large pot and cover the sea grapes with water and bring to a light boil. Turn off burner and let the mixture to cool.
Place sea grapes in mesh bags, and using your hands, squeeze to extract the juice into one of the carboys. Yield should be close to a gallon of sea grape juice. Add two cups of the water from boiling the sea grapes. Slowly stir in 16 cups of sugar. Place mesh bags with sea grape pulp, seeds and skins in the carboy. Add the yeast nutrient. Cover the mixture and set aside for 24 hours in a warm area.
Stir sea grape must, a wine making term for the mixture, and squeeze the mesh bags to extract more juice. Continue squeezing the bags until all the juice is extracted. Discard the material left in the bags. To the mixture, add one crushed Camden tablet and the wine yeast. Cover and place the air lock on the carboy and put it in a warm place.
After five days of fermentation, you will need to check the sugar content. Following the manufacturer’s directions for the hydrometer you have selected, check the sugar content of the must. If it is between 1.020 and 1.040, you can move to the second fermentation stage. If not, re-cover and test again in two days.
Transfer the wine from carboy siphoning it into the glass fermenter. Take care not to suck up the sediment from the bottom of the carboy. Let the wine stand for five weeks and take a hydrometer reading. It should be 1.000 or lower. You then proceed to funneling the wine into bottles. If the reading is higher and you like sweet wine, you can stop the fermentation by adding one more crushed Camden tablet and waiting two weeks before bottling. Let the sea grape wine age for two months after bottling.
Sea grape trees and bushes are not rarely cultivated for their fruit. Before picking them, be sure that the plants are located on public property.
Harvesting sea grapes on private property could constitute trespassing. People are generally unaware of the properties of the fruit and will give permission for you to pick them if you ask.