Making Blackberry Wine - step-by-step instructions


July 28, 2005 finds us in the process of making homemade blackberry wine. Last year's effort to produce cherry wine was so successful that we decided to do it all over again this year, this time using blackberries. Thank you to the Krautscheid family and the Miller family who helped our family in our efforts to find and pick the blackberries needed for this wine.

If you would like to learn about our 2004 cherry wine making efforts, click here: Snazzy Bucket Bongo Juice - Homemade Cherry Wine. Otherwise, follow along with us here as we work on this year's batch of blackberry wine.

Some of the blackberries that are going into our wine.

Here is a flat with a few hallacks of blackberries that we will be using in our wine.

More of the blackberries that will go into our homemade blackberry wine.

We picked these blackberries locally.

Our two eight gallon buckets with blackberries in them.

Not quite enough fruit. We'll add a bit more.

Another picture of the buckets with the fruit at the bottom.

These are eight gallon buckets.

A glass of "not from concentrate" orange juice with Red Star Cote des Blancs active dry wine yeast added.

Evening of July 26th: This is a glass of "not from concentrate" orange juice that Michael brought to a boil over the stove, then let cool. Once it had cooled, we added Red Star "Cote des Blancs" active dry wine yeast. It was left out at room temperature to begin fermenting. We'll be using this as our "yeast starter".

Buckets of blackberries

Here are the buckets with the rest of the blackberries added. Before they were crushed, they reached about the three gallon mark.

Smashing the berries with a wine bottle

On the evening of July 27th, Michael smashed the blackberries with the bottom of an empty wine bottle (from last year's batch of cherry wine).

Making them good and juicy

Note the difference between the crushed berries and the uncrushed berries.

Buckets of berries after smashing

After being crushed, we are left with slightly less than two and a half gallons of berries in each bucket.

25 lb. bag of granulated sugar

We purchased a twenty-five pound bag of granulated sugar to make the wine. This year, we used the entire bag.

Dissolving the sugar into boiling water.

In each pot, we began boiling eight cups of sugar to about the same amount of water.

There are eight cups of sugar to just about an equal amount of water in each pot.

Toward the end of this process, we will discover that we don't have enough sugar in the buckets (as indicated by our hydrometer, which measures the potential alcohol level - It was around 10%). We resorted to adding to each bucket, six cups of sugar dissoloved in as little water as possible. Doing this brought up the potential alcohol level to around 12.5% - Right where we wanted it.

Adding a hallack of raspberries to one of the buckets (the buckets were a little uneven, and the only fruit we had around to add were raspberries).

One bucket was a little short on blackberries as opposed to the other bucket. The only other fruit we had in the house was a hallack of raspberries. Thus, one bucket got a little twist on the fruit content, as I went ahead and added them.

Pouring in the first pot of boiling sugar water.

Pouring the boiling, dissolved sugar water into one of the buckets of blackberries.

Pouring in the second pot of dissolved sugar water.

We repeated this process until the buckets were partially full.

Checking the potential alcohol level with "The Thief".

We checked the potential alcohol level using "The Thief", which has a hydrometer inside of it. Our biggest problem was that the pulp kept clogging the mechanism.

The Thief kept clogging with pulp.

We discovered we were short on sugars, and would need to add more. As I mentioned above, we increased the original one-to-one (water to sugar) ratio to a much higher level of sugar content. We added just enough water to allow the last six cups of sugar (per bucket) to dissolve. This brought up our potential alcohol level to where it needed to be.

Michael stirring the mixture.

We ended up with a comfortable seven gallons of mixture in each bucket.


I added 5.25 teaspoons of diammonium phosphate to each bucket, and Michael put 7 crushed up campden tablets dissolved in water into each bucket.

I measured out 5.25 teaspoons of diammonium phosphate for our seven gallons of mixture. Michael then crushed and dissolved (in a small amount of water) seven campden tablets for each bucket.

Stirring the mixture before letting it sit overnight so the sulfites will dissipate.

We stirred in the diammonium phosphate and the campden tablets, then left the mixtures to cool overnight. At this point, the mixture should be allowed to air out so that the sulfites will have a chance to dissipate.

Stirring the blackberry mixture the next morning.

Morning of July 28th: After letting the mixture sit overnight, we stirred it.

Adding 4 teaspoons of pectic enzyme to each bucket.

We then added pectic enzyme. We were supposed to add 5.25 teaspoons per bucket (3/4 of a tsp. per gallon), but we only had enough to put 4 teaspoons in each bucket. This shouldn't create any problems. We can add more later if necessary.

Getting ready to add the yeast that was started on the countertop the evening of July 26th.

Remember out yeast starter cup from above? Well, it's time to add it to the blackberry mixture.

We will pour half of the started yeast glass into one bucket and half of it into the other bucket.

We poured it right onto the pectic enzyme powder.

Pouring the last of the yeast starter into the second bucket.

No stirring needed.

Orange juice, anyone?

Now we sit and wait for the primary fermentation to begin.

I will be adding more updates of about our homemade blackberry wine making as we go. Click on the "Next" button below to see if I have had a chance to continue our wine making story yet. If so, you will be directed to Page Two.