Organic Fruit Wine Making


How to make fruit wine – Part 1

20161210wine2I have had several carboys sitting with wine in them for a few years so I decided to bottle a couple of them today. I will be posting more pictures and videos of my winemaking and beer brewing the next time I make some.

I learned how to make wine from a good friend Les Gauwitz. He was the master of sweet wines. Les would crush the fruit, add water and sugar and let wild yeast do the fermenting. To get it going he would but a floodlight as a heat lamp to warm the must up so it took off quickly. His wine was always awesome.

I don’t use wild yeast. I use store bought yeast but other than that I stick to what he taught me.

MOST IMPORTANT RULE – Make sure everything is clean and sanitized. I mostly use a little bleach with dish soap to sanitize everything. I have also used commercial bar cleansers like One-Step or B-Brite. Those get rid of any residue if you let things soak in them.

I avoid using any sulfites in my wine. Les sometimes used campden tablets (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) but I have had good luck without them.

I have made dry wines and sweet. The week before 4th of july wild black raspberries get ripe in Illinois and if you know where to find them they are free for the picking along some country roads here.

20161210ciderandwine1One of the most amazing wines I ever made was using only blackberries about 20 years ago.  A friend had a huge blackberry bramble in their garden and picked two 5 gallon buckets. It fermented into a dry full bodied dark wine that tasted like Cabernet but had the aroma of blackberries. Heaven! Have never had enough blackberries to do that again but my patch did the best ever this year so maybe I will get to make that again.

Currently I have a batch of strawberry, blueberry and blackberry that was just racked for the second time after being started July 24, 2016.

Here is the recipe:
6 gallon bags of strawberries
2 gallon bags of blackberries
1 gallon bag of blueberries
12 pounds of organic raw sugar
1 package of Red Star Cotes des Blancs dry wine yeast

Heat the sugar with enough water to dissolve it and let it cool, pour into the 7 gallon plastic fermenter.

All of the berries were from our gardens and we had frozen them. I added all of the black and blue berries that were thawed first into the fermenter. I used an homemade masher to crush the berries and release the juices.

You don’t want to mash strawberries as it is hard to get all the berries out after they ferment of you do! So I cut the strawberries into pieces as soon as they had thawed enough to handle then let them thaw completely before putting them into the fermenter.With everything a room temperature and stirred well I sprinkled the yeast over the top. I sealed the fermenter and installed the airlock bubbler.

The yeast took off and it was perking along nicely in about 36 hours. I racked it into a glass 5 gallon carboy in August. I just racked it again to get it off of the sediment. It tasted GREAT! Semi-dry with a fruit tang and some residual sweetness. Should be ready to bottle in another 6 months to a year.

I often let them sit much longer, up to 4 or 5 years. This blackberry wine I just bottled was originally vinted 8/19/13 and bottled on 12/10/16!

We will be making a video of the next batch of wine we brew. Stay Tuned!








I also took time to harvest some of the leeks left in the garden. There are a bunch more out there but many will survive the winter and I can harvest some in the spring too.


I left a bunch in the garden to overwinter last year too. Leeks are a bi-annual so they flowered this spring and I got lots of leek seeds I will be giving away in a few weeks. Stay tuned!