Making wine in Maine all about having fun for Younity Winery owner

Clem Blakney owner of Younity Winery and Vineyards in Unity. They make seven different wines including blueberry, cranberry, rhubarb and pumpkin. They only use fruit that grew in Maine to produce their products.
Gabor Degre | BDN
Clem Blakney owner of Younity Winery and Vineyards in Unity. They make seven different wines including blueberry, cranberry, rhubarb and pumpkin. They only use fruit that grew in Maine to produce their products. Buy Photo
By Alex Barber, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 15, 2013, at 7:32 p.m.

UNITY, Maine — Clem Blakney’s passion is evident as he talks about his wines. And he talks about them a lot.

Perhaps that was why he seemed so tired after a busload of senior citizens left his Younity Winery and Vineyards on Sunday afternoon during Open Winery Day.

Blakney, 61, owns the winery with his wife, Jeri. The fermentors and tasting room are in the couple’s basement along Albion Road.

While walking in his bare feet and motioning with his blueberry-stained hands, Blakney said his wines are all about having fun.

“Our first was a cranberry wine,” he said. “We didn’t want to just call it cranberry wine. We give all of our wines a personality. Our cranberry wine is called Tickled Pink.”

Younity’s wine made with niagara grapes is called Over a Barrel, which features artwork of a barrel going over Niagara Falls with a hand holding a wine glass coming out of the side of the barrel. The artwork is created by Palermo artist Connie Bellet.

Younity’s most prominent wine, Maine’s House Wine, features multiple labels for the same blueberry wine.

“Every year we’ve added more wines and more personality and every label is different and unique — and so are we,” he said.

The winery was started in 2007 and got its license in 2009. Today, the winery makes seven different wines from several varieties of grapes along with blueberries, cranberries, rhubarb and pumpkins.

Blakney guided tours of dozens of people on Sunday, as did many other wineries around the state. Those in Unity were able to tour the 2 acres of grapevines and taste the wine offerings.

He explained that the wineries in Maine try to help each other. Not every winery has the same taste just as every person has a different palate.

“I tell people, if you like sweet wine, go to Dragonfly [Farm and Brewery in Stetson]. If you like classy wine, go see Breakwater [Vineyards in Owls Head]. If you like strong wine, go see Sow’s Ear [Winery in Brooksville],” he said. “We’re all different. We all know each other. We all support each other.”

Blakney, who is also a selectman in Unity, described his wine as “in the middle.”

“I’m the middle child. Everything I do is right in the middle,” he said. “This [blueberry wine] is not dry. It’s not sweet. It’s right in the middle.”

Several wineries in the state produce a blueberry wine, and Younity is no exception.

“I always tell people that there’s no right or wrong way to make wine,” he said. “We had a person here a few days ago who said, ‘We’ve tried every blueberry wine on the [Maine] Wine Trail, and I haven’t liked any of them.’ I looked at him and I said, ‘Your luck is about to change.’ He tried ours and he said, ‘Oh my God, this is incredible. I love this.’ But guess what? Somebody probably went to another winery and said that that was their favorite blueberry.”

Blakney said he also prides himself on having all of the ingredients in his wine come from Maine.

“I refuse to import a grape from out of state,” he said, adding that about 5 percent of his wine include grapes grown from his 1,400 vines. “One hundred percent of what we do comes from Maine.”

Younity Winery’s production has doubled every year since it opened, he said.

“This year we will be close to about 800 cases,” said Blakney, which equates to 9,600 bottles. “Next year we’ll probably be up to 1,200. We’re growing profoundly. Our first year, we were happy when we sold 20 cases.”

Although the winery is growing, he said he still does it for the fun.

“I’m not going to do volume to the point where it’s just a job,” Blakney said. “I still enjoy every batch.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/09/15/living/making-wine-in-maine-all-about-having-fun-for-younity-winery-owner/ printed on July 31, 2014