Grape, Elderberry & Blackberry Wine

Grape, Elderberry & Blackberry

Ingredients (for 2 gallons)

  • 18lb Black Grapes (these are Black Hamburg variety)
  • 2lb Elderberries
  • 2lb Blackberries
  • 2 teaspoons Pectolayse
  • 2 Campden Tablets
  • 2 teaspoon Yeast Nutrient
  • Sugar (875g according to the Hydrometer)
  • Burgundy Wine Yeast

An attempt at a full-flavoured red wine, hopefully coming in at 12%ABV. Using fruit gathered from last year kept in the freezer. A little more advanced as this recipe uses a Hydrometer to measure the sugar content of the juice. See Hydrometer instructions on how to use.

How to

I was asked last Summer (2014) if I would like some grapes to make a drop of wine with, there were plenty of them but would have to wait for them to ripen. Operation Forkenknife was born, and so with meticulous planning I turned up at the designated spot later in the year to be confronted by two giant vines in a courtyard at a 300 year old farm house in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Apparently the vines are approximately 45 years old, of the Black Hamburg variety and they cover two sides of an old courtyard/stables. Much ladder climbing later, I came away with a few (I think about 80 but I lost count!) pound of the Grapes with big plans to have a go at making some ‘proper’ red wine. Here is the first attempt.

Preparing the Grapes: Remove all stalks, wash. Freeze in 6lb bags

Preparing the Blackberries: Place in salted water for a couple of hours or overnight to get rid of the grubs. Carefully take them out in batches, wash in a sieve. Freeze in 1lb bags.

Preparing the Elderberries: Remove all stalks & wash. Freeze in 1lb bags.

Put the Grapes, Elderberries & Blackberries in a large sterilised bin, roll up your sleeves and get your arms in up to the elbow. Think James Herriot in All Creatures Great & Small. Squish the fruit between your fingers for as long as it takes. The aim is to turn the fruit into juice (see photograph right).

Add the Pectolayse & crushed Campden Tablets, cover and leave for 24 hours (you don’t need Acid or Tannin as the Grapes should contain everything you need).

Take a Hydrometer reading & calculate the sugar content.

Stir in the Yeast Nutrient & sprinkle on the Yeast, cover and place in a warm place. Check after a few hours, stir in the Yeast.

Ferment for 10 days.

Strain into another sterilised bin/bucket,  add the Sugar & stir to dissolve.

Note: After doing initial readings with a Hydrometer, I decided to make this batch approximately 12% ABV. Calculations indicated i would need 875g more Sugar to achieve this (half of this for one gallon obviously).

Once the Sugar is dissolved, pour into sterilised demijohns, seal with a bung & airlock & put away to ferment out.



August 2014 – Blackberries gathered

October 2014 – Grapes & Elderberries Gathered

30th December 2014 – Wine started

12th January 2015 – Strained & Sugar added. Siphoned into demijohns.


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