Blackberry wine is the perfect way to make use of a huge crop of summer blackberries. This one-gallon blackberry wine recipe can easily be increased to make a full 5-gallon batch if you have plenty on hand.
Wild blackberries are everywhere in Vermont, and we grow blackberries in our garden too, so we always have buckets of fresh blackberries in the summertime.
Much of our crop is gobbled up right out in the field, but once our stomachs are full it comes home in buckets for preserving.
I’ve started canning whole blackberries for use in winter cobblers and that works wonderfully as well. In all the blackberry feasts of summer, don’t forget to make a batch of blackberry wine.
When there’s enough around to pick them by the 5-gallon bucket full, it’s no trouble to pull some aside for sweet blackberry wine.
This recipe is adapted from The Home Winemakers Companion. The book describes it as follows:
“This is an outstanding dessert wine, well suited to many sweets like black forest cake, fruit pies a la mode, cheesecake, and fruit tarts. It is a reasonably easy wine to make and will earn accolades from friends and relatives.”
I like the fact that this recipe does not include any chemical stabilizers, but the original recipe had other fruits besides blackberries.
The author included a full pound of mashed bananas and 1/4 pound of raisins as well. I’ve removed those and added more blackberries instead, and it makes sourcing ingredients for the recipe simpler.
The bananas aren’t there for flavor, they’re actually added to help give the wine more body and a fuller mouthfeel. If you’d feel that the finished wine is a bit thin, you can substitute some of the sugar for honey for the same effect.
The raisins in the original recipe are a source of yeast nutrients, to help give the yeast a balanced diet. Grapes are a complete food, but other fruits are often lacking in nutrients yeast needs to thrive.
I’ve added powdered yeast nutrient instead, which still feeds the yeast but won’t impact the flavor of the finished wine as raisins would. If you don’t have yeast nutrients, feel free to use 1/4 lb of raisins instead.
The recipe also specifically calls for Wyeast Mead Sweet Yeast, which finishes with a heavy-bodied sweet wine. That particular yeast packet is a bit expensive and might be worth the investment for a big 5 or 6-gallon batch. For a one-gallon batch, try this one which also finishes sweet but is much more economical to buy in dried form.
You can also go with a generic Premier Blanc wine yeast which works well in just about any wine. The downside is it has a much higher alcohol tolerance, so your blackberry wine will be on the dry side (with more alcohol and residual sugar).
Watch yourself during the primary ferment. This blackberry wine fermented more violently than any in my recent memory.
While most wine, cider, and beer recipes have you start the batch with either an open fermenter or a blow-off tube, I often don’t bother. I have kids running around, and a cat who loves to jump into anything, so I usually just seal it up in a standard narrow neck one-gallon jug with a water lock.
I check the fermenter every 8 to 10 hours to make sure it’s not bubbling up into the water lock, but usually, it’s not a problem.
Not this time…
This blackberry wine is hell-bent on blowing up and it’s not stopping anytime soon. No more than an hour or two goes by without an eruption, so be warned.
I actually ended up filtering all the fruit out of the mixture after 24 hours, and moving the mixture into half-gallon mason jars with simple silicone water locks from Mason tops. These water locks are much easier to clean and they’re perfect for use in a primary ferment.
The silicone has a tiny pressure valve nipple that forms a water lock without water. They’re usually used for making vegetable ferments, but there’s no reason not to use them for winemaking and they work great.
But anyhow, I’d recommend you start off right and begin your primary fermentation in a bucket or open fermenter covered with a towel. Let it go for a few days to a week before filtering out the fruit pieces and moving the blackberry wine to a narrow neck fermenter.
After a week in the primary fermenter, be it a towel-covered fermentation bucket or silicone water-locked mason jars, go ahead and rack the blackberry wine back into a narrow neck fermenter with a traditional waterlock once the fermentation slows down a bit.
Allow it to ferment in secondary for about 3 months, then rack again and leave it for 8 months to a year before bottling. Once bottled, age for at least 6 months before drinking.
So to recap:
- Ferment in primary for 1 week, watching for overflows, ideally in a bucket fermenter
- Secondary for 3 months
- rack again and leave for 8 to 12 months
- Bottle and age for at least 6 months.
All in all, this blackberry wine won’t be ready to drink for at least 18 months. Now I’m wishing I had made a 5-gallon batch…
I’ve written this recipe for a 1-gallon batch, but it can easily be multiplied by 5 for a full five-gallon batch. If you’ve only got a handful of blackberries and still want to give it a try, use a half-gallon or quart fermenter as I describe in this post on making small-batch wine.
If you do adjust the recipe, all the ingredients can be scaled up or down accordingly, except the yeast.
A yeast packet is good for 1 to 5 gallons of liquid, and you can just use the whole packet for those volumes. The yeast multiplies quickly and you don’t need 5 packets of yeast for a 5-gallon batch, it’s just a seed quantity anyway.
With batches bigger than 5 gallons, go ahead and use more yeast.
Similarly, for small batches of less than 1 gallon, just use part of the packet. Seeding the batch with a whole packet will cause a really intense primary ferment, and this one’s already quite vigorous.
(Always make sure you sanitize all equipment before starting. I use One Step No-Rinse Sanitizer which is made for brewing and winemaking. It’s doesn’t leave a residue, and just ensures everything is clean before you get started so that there’s no wild yeast or other sources of contamination.)
Ways to Preserve Blackberries
Looking for more ways to preserve blackberries?
A sweet dessert wine with a beautiful blackberry flavor.
- Sanitize all equipment.
- Smash blackberries and sugar together in a primary fermentation container.
- Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and pour over the blackberries and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Allow the mixture to cool to around 70 degrees and add the remaining ingredients, adding enough water to fill your 1-gallon fermenter.
- Seal the fermenter with a blow off tube (this ferments a bit violently for a water lock) or leave open for the first part of the primary ferment, just covered with a towel. Stir the mixture daily for 5-7 days until the most vigorous fermentation is complete.
- After about a week, wrack the blackberry wine into a glass carboy (narrow neck) and seal with a water lock. Allow the mixture to ferment for about 3 months before racking again.
- At this point, allow the mixture to ferment for 8-12 months before bottling.
- Allow the blackberry wine to bottle age at least 6 months before tasting.
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