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laiquatan

Dreams of roses and honey wine

7 years ago

My pipe dream of starting a meadery has taken a twist that has landed me on this forum reading a lot or threads, so I thought I'd share in case anyone is inspired to chime in opinions.

The meadery is still at least a couple years off, depending on how much of my day-job I determine I need to give up to get it going and how far my mortgage is from being paid off. The twist is that I've taken a notion to try rhodomels - honey wine made using rose water. My in-laws have some manner of OGR (I'm thinking it's a centifolia; not quite fuzzy/glandular enough to make me think it's a moss), and the last couple years I've collected petals from it and tried distilling them and was pleased with the rose water that resulted. To make them commercially would be a fairly unique niche and I think I would really enjoy the addition of the roses to the rest of the mead making. So that got me scouring gardenweb and sites for the most fragrant roses that I can find for farming for rose water.

The criteria I came up with to try to sort the candidates of course largely focused on coming up with large amounts of fragrant petals: especially fragrant varieties, ones that seem fairly prolific according to reports or google images, fairly large bushes, and old enough varieties that I can propagate them to my heart's content. Resistance is also a big factor because, since I'm growing these for consumption (even though distilling should avoid a lot of added chemicals), I'm going to want to be as no-spray as possible. Variety of fragrance would let me fine-tune the end result and have a truly unique creation. Remondancy was an original consideration (or at least non-overlapping blooming times between varieties though that information isn't readily available), but upon reading the thread about the woes of reblooming roses with Japanese beetles I'm wondering how successful I'll be in avoiding them. And some of the roses are just so pretty I'm tempted even if they're not as strong on other criteria.

Out of a list of over 100, I'm probably going to want to trim down to a bit over a half dozen. I figured I'd try my found rose just because the fragrance is so strong and it's available. I also thought I'd try one of the damasks grown specifically for harvest, such as the Kazanlik or Ispahan. A few of the others high on the list are Jude the Obscure, Roseraie de l'Hay vs Hansa, Blush Noisette (vs Nastarana?), Madame Isaac Pereire, and maybe some that are reported to smell like honey though for the most part they don't seem very prolific. I might throw in a climber or rambler for variation in form. Sheila's Perfume is my concession to appearance even though others have reported it to not be terribly prolific (I'm especially fond of blendy colors).

I don't remember if my username mentions it, but I'm in zone 6, KY (30miles south of Lexington). Even if this doesn't get much feedback, I just wanted to say I appreciate all the information you've shared in all your other threads.

-Don

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