Part of the mystique of Vaucluse Woods are the wild wine berries. If you have ever walked the back fence-line through our woods here at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring, you have seen the bushes. Right now in July the berries are at their peak, and I’ve never seen them better. Just the right amount of rain has made them not too small and sour, and not too large and bland, but, as Goldilocks says, “Just right.”
I met these new friends along the fence-line path. They do not care for either the berries or the vine foliage; they just like to check the fence to see if they can get out, and coincidentally they keep a path open.
Turns out the wine berries are (another) invasive exotic plant from Asia that have taken over some woodlands in the eastern part of the U.S. According to Wikipedia, Rubus phoenicolasius was introduced as an ornamental plant [hard to believe] and for its potential for breeding hybrid raspberries [makes more sense].
The berries are easy to pick here since the cattle have made such a nice access path. Probably their best use is to just pop them into your mouth as you pick them while you take a walk in the woods. We’ve also served them with fresh bananas at breakfast for a great color and tartness contrast. They would also be lovely mixed with other fresh berries or used as a raspberry substitute, keeping in mind that they are tarter than domesticated raspberries.
The great thing about wine berries is that since their vines are considered a pest, you can enjoy eating all you want and hack away at the vines with a clear conscience. You’ll be helping the environment!