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.
Blackberry jam is a must of course, or you can make blackberry jelly if you prefer seedless preserves. And fresh blackberry pie always makes an appearance at my house before the season is over.
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…
I made peach wine with big chunks of fruit in it without a problem, and even the matted flower petals from dandelion wine didn’t make their way into the water lock.
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.
(Unless you already happen to have some silicone mason jar water locks because you also make sauerkraut or Lacto-fermented pickles at home, cause those work nicely too.)
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.
- 4 lbs blackberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 1/4 lbs sugar, about 4 1/2 cups
- 1/4 tsp tannin powder
- 1 tsp acid blend
- 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
- 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
- 1 packet wine yeast, preferably sweet wine yeast
- water to fill
- 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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I’d love to make wine, but I juiced from all my berries. How much berry juice would i need for the 1 gallon recipe?
Wow, that’s lovely! If you have the juice already you can try making a really strong batch with just under a gallon of juice, leaving enough space for the sugar and other additives. When I used sugar to extract juice, the combined juice/sugar mixture was only about 1/2 gallon so to make something akin to my recipe I’d just use about 1/2 gallon of extracted juice.
I would test the gravity of the juice and at that point you can decide to add more liquid and amount of sugar based on the starting gravity.
Does this blackberry to water ratio make the one dark or light. I like a dark blackberry wine. Wondering if I should increase the amount.
At which step do you strain the fruit from the juice?
Recipe looks perfect! Can’t wait to try it….
You have a few options…
For a cleaner ferment with less chance of overflows, mash the blackberries in sugar and allow their juices to extract for about 24 hours. Pour the water over it, stir it well and then strain then (before even putting it into the fermenter).
You can also leave the blackberries in during the primary fermentation and strain after the first week or so, which will extract more flavor but also increase the risk of the water lock clogging with fruit. If you do this, really watch it for overflows and clogs, and clear the water lock as necessary.
What do you do with the overflow? I’m on my first day after putting everything in the fermenter. I put it in a bowl in case stuff overflowed the yup in the night, and sure enough I’ve got about half an inch of juice in the bowl. Is that the good stuff or the bad stuff?
Tube. Not yup
I also would prefer to juice my berries first, and then ferment the first stage in a food grade bucket covered with cloth and a rubber band. Does this seem like a viable plan?
Yes indeed. That works just fine too (and likely will be cleaner all around).
Is it ok to use a standard enamel canning pot for this?
Yes, you can use whatever pot you want. All you’re doing is bringing the water to a boil before pouring it over the fruit, it doesn’t much matter what container you use in this case.
A little bit over my head, many terms I don’t know, time to grab a dictionary, LoL! The jist of it all seems simple enough. I looked up wine and found you, as acstep in liqueur… so, if made, can this wine be used in lieu of the red wine in blackberry liqueur recipes?
Yes, you can use this in place of red wine in recipes. Sorry about the lingo, winemaking can get complicated…
Wine was fermented in canner pot and bottled a week later with air locks. I noticed recipe didn’t call for Sodium Metabisulphite. This is my second time making wine and I didn’t want it to turn into sparkling (like my cider last fall) so I added 3grams of it diluted in water and topped off to prevent yeast from going into second fermentation. I hope I didn’t mess this up. Any suggestions/comments? Do you back sweeten yours? It’s been fermenting for total of 9 days until I added SM and I’d like wine to be sweet. I used sweet wine yeast K1-V1116. Thank you.
I never use stabilizers in my wine, so I’m honestly not sure if 3 grams is right for a gallon. Only fermenting it for 9 days is a bit short though…here’s the timeline I suggested:
Ferment in primary for 1 week, watching for overflows
Secondary for 3 months
rack again and leave for 8 to 12 months
Bottle and age for at least 6 months.
So killing off the yeast after just 9 days will result in a very low alcohol ferment, and the vast majority of the sugar will still be in there. I’m honestly not sure if there’s enough alcohol in there for it to keep, but then again, I’m not sure if that’s strictly required given that you added a stabilizer. I don’t know if it’s possible for it to spoil with that in there…
All around, I’m not sure since you’re doing something I’ve never tried and I’m not sure how it’ll turn out. My best guess is you have a very lightly alcoholic wine, with A LOT of residual sugar. Not my preference, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it messed up either if you were going for a still wine with a lot of sugar remaining.
Give it a bit of time in the bottle to mellow, and then let me know how it tastes, now I’m curious.
Hi Ashley and thank you for your reply. I realized the mistake I made after rereading your instructions that same night. It was late and for some reason I thought wine wasn’t supposed to fizz. I remembered using stabilizer in the past and added it way too early. I’ll let it age and follow racking guidelines. This may be time consuming and expensive grape juice! Sorry, we all have our moments =)
No worries Carole, you have no idea how many batches I’ve fudged at some point in the process. All part of the learning curve. Hope it turns out tasty either way!
Is it normal for a blackberry & sugar water for wine making to have mold build up in the jars
If left long enough it will start to mold. Did you add yeast yet? Blackberries and sugar will of course mold pretty quickly. Extract the juice with sugar, strain and then get the yeast in there. That whole process should only be 24-48 hours, and there shouldn’t be any mold issues in that time.
If you leave the fruit pulp in the primary ferment, after about 2 weeks anything exposed to the air will start to mold. That’s one reason to either filter it out before beginning or be sure to rack the wine over into secondary on time to avoid mold issues.
I use a similar recipe (24 1 gal batches so far). 2 things that really ease the process: use a 2 gal food grade plastic bucket for primary & put the mashed blackberries into a 1 gal nylon paint strainer. I tie the nylon strainer with string & into the bucket with all else. 5-6 days later remove the bag & rack to glass secondary. I also go with about 148 oz fluid only so I get a gallon in secondary 1 about a bottle secondary. The bottle is used for top-up after rackings & as test drinks so you end up with a full gallon. Not to say my way is better, just explaining some things to eliminate straining & get 5 bottles from the batch.
When I make grape wine I use only a 1/2 tsp (2.8 grams) per 5 gallons at 3 different times during the process. 1) on day 1 in the primary fermenter to kill wild yeasts. 2) months later after all the racking is done and I want to age it in bulk for a long period of time (a year or more). 3) a few days before bottling when you rack the last time. If you used 3 grams in 1 gallon after only 9 days… well… I kinda think you were being too cautious.
If you are worried about wild yeasts… make the recipe as above but don’t add the yeast right away.
Instead put all the ingredients (except the yeast) in the primary fermenter ( I just use a 5 gallon food grade bucket with a loose lid) and stir in 1/8th of a teaspoon (in a bit of water) or if you have a scale about 1 gm of MBS to it, put the lid on loose. WAIT 24 HOURS. The next day add the yeast and carry on. You likely won’t need any more MBS after that if you keep things really clean. Anything that touches the wine needs to be very very clean.
The sanitizing action of MBS comes from the solution off-gassing sulfur. The sulfur kills any organism but is short lived. First I clean everything. Then I use a 2.5% solution of MBS (2 teaspoons in 1 liter of water) in a spray bottle to spray all the buckets, tools, bottles, hydrometer, sink etc… (including my hands) and let it all sit for a just a few minutes. Then rinse everything with clean water and you are good to go. As long as the spray bottle keeps tight it will last you a long time. MBS in water open to air will off-gas and become useless. I have never had a grape or any other fruit wine go bad. Cheers.
When racking, especially from secondary to tirsherary, I will lose space in my carboy. I know air and light are killers. What do I back fill with? A red? If so what grape?
Anything I make that erupts like blackberries takes special care. I allways use something bigger so the foam cant make it to the top. A bucket works good or a large wide mouth jar. Or my 7 gallon open top fermentater. I allways thought it was best to make alot so some of it can sit away. They taste so much better after a year.
Thanks for the reply. I just moved them all to the bigger freezer, and it feels like I have close to 10 lbs of berries. Time to syrup, cobbler, AND wine! 🤗
I really want to try to make wine for the first time. What kind of equipment is needed for a 5 gallo batch? Google searches are not helping and for some reason, I just trust you. I can FEEEL the good vibes through the screen lol.
This post for a 1 gallon batch of apple wine lists all of the equipment that you need. The equipment is the same for a 5 gallon batch but you just need a larger fermentation vessel.
After the initial fermentation and after racking, When topping off the narrow neck bottle, what ratio of sugar water should I use?
You really shouldn’t need to top it off but if you choose to do so most people prefer to use the same juice that the wine was made from or adding a finished wine. Putting sugar in the wine while it is still in the fermentation process will cause the fermentation to get much more active.
What should i do if initial ferment seems to stop after a couple of days
Try what they suggest here on this troubleshooting guide: https://www.midwestsupplies.com/blogs/bottled-knowledge/how-do-i-fix-a-stuck-fermentation
Is it normal for my initial ferment in bucket to stop after only 3 days
No, it should really still be going, but it can be hard to see if it’s in a bucket. It goes really hard and fast for a few days, then really slows down. My guess is it’s still working, but much slower than it was the first few days.
Can I use black tea instead of tannic powder? And can I use lemons instead of the pectic enzyme?
The pectic enzyme is just a cosmetic thing. It breaks apart the pectin in the fruit so the wine will clear. If you don’t have it, you can just skip it (lemons aren’t a sub for that). For the tannin powder, yes, you can use a cup of strongly brewed black tea in place of that. Just make a cup of tea (like lipton), let it cool, remove the tea bag and put it in with everything else.
Can I use this recipe for Raspberry wine?
Hi Ashley! Just wondering if you know about how much water you’re adding per gallon I have been following your recipes and have started my wines in a large crock for the primary so there’s plenty of space for bubbling!!
It really just depends. If you have another container that is a gallon then you could maybe measure everything out in that container to be sure that you have a gallon and then add it to your crock for the fermentation.
Will adding campden tablets to this affect the recipe?
You can add Camden tablets to stop the fermentation and stabilize the wine before bottling. I personally prefer not to add any stabilizers to keep it as natural as possible.
Would starting ferment in 1.5 gallon or 2 gallon carboy avoid bubble over or would added head space negatively affect the ferment?
Many people actually use open fermentation for blackberry wine so I don’t see that the added space would negatively affect the ferment.
I took one pound of frozen blackberries and 1.5 pounds of brown sugar and boiled with 1.5 gals of bottles water for a few minutes. Then added Belgium ale yeast at 70 degrees and poured into primary fermenter. Im looking to make something fizzy and 7%. Hydrometer was at 1.045 at 70 deg. before the berries were added. Fermentation is going crazy, you can hear it from 3 feet away. I will put in secondary w/ air lock after a few weeks. After that I will prime and bottle like beer. What am I making here?
Sounds like you might be making blackberry beer.
Hello I’m new to wine making a the instruction say to add 1 pack of yeast and 1 packet does up to 5 gallons. Is that to much for the one gallon that I’m making?
Also I’m using a 2 1/2 gallon ferment bucket and it said to add enough water to fill 1 gallon. Since I put 1quart in already I should just have to add 3 more quarts. Correct? Thanks!
You can use 1/4 of a packet for a 1 gallon batch. You want a total of a gallon of liquid for your batch.
Is it possible to leave out the pectic enzyme and use lemon juice instead of the acid blend?
Yup, both those changes are perfectly fine. The pectic enzyme is there to help the wine clear, it’s a cosmetic thing. To use lemon juice instead of acid blend, you’d put in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every teaspoon of acid blend in the recipe.
Hi Ashley, my blackberry wine has been going well and went into first rack Carboy about a month ago, can still see the occasional bubbles coming through the water lock so everything is looking well! One question, i have about 4 litres worth in a 5 litre Carboy and Ive noticed residue deposits as the Carby narrows into the neck. Is this normal? Or could this be mold? Just debating racking early!
Thanks so much for the recipe
I am going to guess that this residue is probably from the wine bubbling up into the neck and then receding. I would just keep an eye on it. You should be able to tell if it is actually mold.
I love your recipes and posts – they are so inspiring! 🙂 You are the reason I got courage to try my hand in making wine at home 🙂
At the moment I have some blackberries, wild blueberries and strawberries in my freezer and I decided to make three wines with these berries. Each recipe for these berries calls for 1 tsp acid blend. Thing is, I live in Sweden and can’t find it here. Could I replace it with tartaric acid or citric acid? I think I can get my hands on some malic acid as well. Which acid would work best in those recipes and what quantities should I use?
Best wishes/ Diana
The acid blend actually is made up of 50 percent malic acid 40 percent citric acid and 10 percent tartaric acid. So if you think you can get your hands on all three, maybe you could just blend them together in this ration and then use the recommended amount from the recipe.