Fruit Wine Info


…is primarily associated with grapes, but fruit wines have an equally long history, and make wonderful, uniquely local and stylized wines.  Fruit varies tremendously in complexity, acidity and body.  Unlike traditional grape varieties, fruits rarely have enough sugar content or proper acid balance.  Hence, the fruit winemaker must consider adding additional sugars and softening or adding acid to get a “balanced” wine.  Fruit wines have an undeserved reputation as “sweet” wines.  With adequate tools and information, the winemaker has complete control over the properties of the wine, and the capability to produce an interesting wine, sweet or dry, still, or carbonated, low or high in alcohol, heavy or light in body.  Roughly speaking, most fruit wines are more like white wines than red, having less body, significant acidity, and less tannin, though berries and cherries have significant tannin and “grape” like properties akin to red wine grapes.  Wine takes time. Plan on at least 4 months of elapsed time with careful racking (or transferring) into glass carboys for aging.  Plan on racking 2-3 times prior to bottling.  We recommend using yeast nutrients and clarifying aids such as bentonite, sparkolloid or chitosan, and the use of stabilizer (potassium sorbate) and late additions of sugar to balance high acid fruit wines.




  • 8 Gallon primary fermenter (plastic or glass)


  • 5 Gallon glass secondary fermenter


  • Large mesh pulping bag to contain fruit (24”x24”)


  • Racking cane and flexible tubing for transferring and bottling


  • Hydrometer and dedicated sample jar


  • Airlocks and stoppers for fermenters


  • Bottle filler tip (attaches to racking tubing)


  • Corker and corks


  • Sanitizer solution, 24 750ml wine bottles


Recommeded ingredients: Available in inexpensive small packs


  • Yeast Choices: Red Star or Lalvin brand Yeast Packages


  • Yeast Nutrient


  • Pectic Enzyme


  • Acid Blend


  • Campden Tablets or Potassium Metabisulfite


  • Fining (clarifying agents) Bentonite, Sparkolloid, Turbo Clear


  • Potassium Sorbate



Additional recommended measing tools:


  • Acid (titration) test kit


  • PH Papers Range 3-5 or Digital PH meter


  • Sulfite (ripper method) testing kits






Typical Fermentation Schedule for Light-Bodied Fruit Wine:


First 1-2 weeks:  Active fermentation, lots of sediment, rack to secondary glass fermenter after about 1-2 weeks


1-3 months later: Little activity, some sediment, wine is clear or starting to clear, you should rack again when substantial sediment build-up occurs


2-3 months later:  Terminal (finished) gravity is reached, no signs of  activity, wine is very clear and ready to bottle.  Clarifying and stabilizing agents can be added at this stage.  Bottle soon.


This is a hypothetical scenario, just be patient and let the wine works at its own pace.  Keep wine protected from radical temperature changes and bright light during fermentation and maturation.







For 5 gallons

18-22 lbs berries

5 teaspoons of Yeast Nutrient (aids the yeast in completing a thorough fermentation)

5 teaspoons Pectic Enzyme

7-10 lbs dextrose or cane sugar (necessary to bring the must up to an appropriate starting gravity: 1.080-1.090, Use your hydrometer and add sugar accordingly)

2  5 gram Packs Cotes De Blanc Dry Yeast or Pasteur Red (for drier finish)

Fining agent recommended for clarification (Bentonite, Sparkolloid or Turbo Clear)

5 Campden tablets for Sulfite Addition(5 tablets)

Potassium Sorbate (Stabilizer) for late sweetening of wine to balance (optional)


The Process:

Pick or buy about 20 lbs fresh berries (preferably organic).  Freeze the fruit if you can’t make the batch immediately.  Freezing fruit can actually help break down cell walls and make sugar more readily available for fermentation.

Place fruit in sturdy nylon mesh bag and pulp (mash) fruit by hand into sanitized primary fermenter bucket.  Using a hydrometer, add sugar to appropriate gravity (usually 11-13% potential alcohol or 1.095-1.100 specific gravity). Initial volume should be about 6.5 gallons total with fruit pulp and top-off water (for a final target of 5 finished gallons).

Add any additional nutrients, acids, or enzymes per recipe guidelines.  Our sample recipe calls for 5 tsp yeast nutrient, and 5 tsp pectic enzyme.  Add 5 crushed campden tablets for 50ppm sulfite addition.  Rather than just following a recipe, Intermmediate winemakers might want to actually measure the key metric(s) of the wine using PH and acid testing kits to specifically target certain wine properties and sulfite levels.

Add suitable yeast strain (Cotes De Blanc, Pasteur Red, etc).  Rehydrate yeast in 1 cup warm water for 15 minutes then add to full volume of must at room temperatures.  Fermentation activity should begin in about 4-6 hours.  Ferment between 58 degrees and room temperatures.  Fermenting cool (around 58 degrees) generally produces a wine with more fruity aroma and less “hot” flavors from yeast activity.  Stir primary fermenter daily. On day 4-5 of fermentation, remove the pulp bag and collect as much liquid runnings from the pulp as possible.

 After about 10 days:  Rack to secondary (5 gallon glass carboy) place airlock assembly, leaving behind lees (solid matter).  From here on out, your carboy should be full, within inches of the airlock and stopper.

 After About 1 month:  Rack again.  We advocate adding a half dose of finings (bentonite or sparkolloid) early in the process.  Racking will result in some loss in volume.  Top-off with sterile water, or for significant additions, sterile sugar water or commercial wine.

 3 months later: rack again

Wine should be clearing, rack once more if needed.  The wine should be still, meaning consecutive hydrometer readings should be static.  If the wine is not clearing up, add a fining agent (Tubo Clear, Bentonite or Sparkolloid).  At this point in time, a 25ppm-35ppm sulfite dose is recommended for stability (2 campden tablet in 5 gallons).

1-2 months later: Bottling Day?

By this time (about 5-6 months in) decide if the wine is ready to bottle.  If the wine has bottom sediments you may want to rack once more to avoid picking up sediments when you bottle and wait at least another month.  If the wine is brilliantly clear, with little or no sediment go ahead and bottle out of the current carboy.   If you desire any final additional sweetness to balance you can use Potassium Sorbate and sweeten to taste just before bottling.  Use a spring tip filler or a racking cane set for controlled bottling and be sure to sanitize all your equipment. We suggest a low level addition (15-20ppm) of sulfite (1 Campden Tablet) at this time if the wine is intended to age.  


This has been a generic example.  The are many factors that influence a wine timeline including alcohol level, acidity, PH, sanitiation, oxidation, and temperature.  If you not sure if your wine is ready to bottle then wait and assess it again later.

Winemaking really takes time!  Invest in one of the decent books and help yourself out. 



Some recommended reading: 


Home Winemaking step by step, Jon Iverson

Techniques in Home Winemaking, by Daniel Pambianchi

The Joy of Home Winemaking, by Terry Garey

WINEMAKER magazine.






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