Homemade elderberry raspberry wine

Our second batch of wine was elderberry raspberry. Nigel Deacon recommends adding raspberries to elderberry wine for an improved bouquet (hoity-toity as that may sound).

The wine has now been fermented and bottled, and happy days, tastes great! In fact, we’ve gone through four of the six bottles already (we’re keeping the other two for awhile to see how the wine matures).

My FIL (who used to be into homebrew) was very impressed, said it was difficult to distinguish from grape wine.


The elderberries were in the freezer from last year (or was it the year before?). Elderberry trees are quite common here, but sadly we didn’t pick a lot of elderberries this year. Knowing how excellent this wine is means we will be sure to pick a lot next year!

When we made this wine, there were not quite enough elderberries to make up the required 1.6kg (3-1/2 pounds), hence the addition of a few blackberries and sloes.

The procedure is the same as for Blackberry pineapple wine. Instead of pineapple juice, we used 100% blackcurrant juice blend by Ribena (this is a new product, not the same as regular Ribena, which has sugar in it). And OMG in looking up that link I’ve just discovered that Ribena is owned by GlaxoSmithKline, well that is the last time I am buying that! Red or purple grape juice would also have a complementary flavour. We used Gervin wine yeast no. 2.

Elderberry raspberry wine

British American
1230g elderberries 2-3/4 pounds
250g blackberries 9 ounces
70g sloes 2 ounces
(or use 1550g/3 lbs + 7 oz elderberries)
250g raspberries 9 ounces
2 UK pints filtered water 38 ounces
1 litre 100% juice (blackcurrant or grape) 1 quart
1kg organic granulated sugar 2.2 pounds
1 UK pint filtered water, for dissolving sugar 19 ounces
1/2 packet wine yeast 1/2 packet

1. It’s best to start with frozen berries. Freezing the berries sterilises them without having to use chemicals or boiling water. (The former of which is undesireable for obvious reasons, the latter because it makes the wine more difficult to clear.) Put frozen berries into a muslin hop bag, then into the fermentation bin, and add two pints (38 ounces) of filtered water and the juice. Cover and let stand 24 hours, or until the fruit is thawed and the whole mixture has come up to room temperature.

2. Dissolve sugar in one pint (19 ounces) water over low heat. Let cool to room temperature, then add to the bin.

3. Start yeast. Sprinkle yeast over 50ml (2 ounces) of warm water to which 1/2 teaspoon sugar had been added, then leave to stand for 20 minutes. After this time it should be foamed up. Stir and add to the bin, then stir again. Cover.

4. Put bin in a warm spot (around 20C/70F), or if you’ll putting it in a cooler location, use a heating strap around the bin.

5. Every day or every couple of days, stir the mixture in the bin, mashing the hop bag to help break the fruit up.

6. After a week or so, the wine will be ready for transfer to a demijohn. After giving your hands a really good scrub, squeeze the hop bag to remove as much juice as possible. (We compost the pulp.) Then pour the wine into a sterilised one-gallon demijohn. Don’t forget to also sterilise any equipment that will be used in the process, such as the funnel and bung/airlock. For sterilising, we use a chlorine-based agent for the demijohn, and boiling water for anything else. Although you can get plastic demijohns, we always use glass, being wary of plastic for a variety of reasons. Glass demijohns are available from homebrew shops, Wilkinsons stores, charity shops, eBay, etc. Fit a bung and airlock. Put the wine back into a nice warm spot (or cooler spot, with heating strap).

7. The wine will continue to ferment, and the sediment will start to settle to the bottom. A week or two later, syphon the wine into a second sterilised demijohn and then let it stand again. When the wine has cleared and fermentation has finished, it is ready to transfer to bottles (which also need to be sterilised). You’ll know fermentation has finished when there are no longer any tiny bubbles forming at the top of the wine, and no more bubbles going through the airlock.

How long you let the wine mature is up to you. Some sources say the wine is ready for drinking when you transfer to the bottles, other sources say to let the wine mature for some months or even years. We drank some bottles very young and plan to leave others to mature.

As for the cost, one gallon (six bottles) of this wine cost about £2.80 ($4.20), which works out to less than 50p (70 cents) per bottle. That’s about 1/6 the cost of the cheapest supermarket wine.


  1. Yum Yum Yum – this sounds soooo good.I’ve not gotten round to making home brew yet – but I will and I’ll know where to come for help and advice.
    I LOVE it that you used the words hoity toity!

    You have been given an award



  2. that is really awesome. I wonder when I’ll be as adventurous as you are :). It would be so cool to go to a dinner party and bring some homemade wine.

  3. Hope you don’t mind that I “borrowed” your elderberries pic. and I hope you’re not finding the UK a bit wet and lukewarm 🙂

  4. No problem. In fact, I think that is one of the few pics I borrowed from elsewhere! It is far too wet and windy here at the moment.

  5. I have access to hundreds of pounds of elderberries and blackberries and was wondering if I could use this recipie but on a larger scale also I was wondering if you have to use yeast, I thought that the berries already have yeast on them?
    thanks Dylan

  6. I’m trying to tell if the bush/tree in my neighbors yard is Elderberry,it shure looks like it.
    Does the fruit have one large seed in it or many small seeds?
    Allthough the berry is very dark in color the fruit inside apears whitish when crushed between your fingers, not much odor, slightly sweet taste.
    Possibly the fruit is immature as it is just September here in Michigan.

  7. Dylan — I’ve only ever tried making a double batch of wine (not elderberry, but elderflower and also plum). For that, I just doubled the amount of everything, except yeast. I’m not sure about making a very large quantity of wine in one go. The yeast packets that I buy say that they are sufficient for five gallons, so you would only need to use one packet for five gallons. I’m not sure if you would need to multiply all other ingredients proportionally or not. One thing I am discovering is that our homebrew can be quite potent! We were told that if you want to make wine that is consistently 12% alcohol or so, you need use a hydrometer. Jack Keller has some info on that here.

    I know that some fruits have natural yeast on them (not sure if elderberries do), however the risk with using natural yeast is that it can sometimes give an off taste, or not be strong enough for a complete fermentation (or so I have read).

    Good luck!

    Rick — Elderberries (at least the ones here in the UK) have a couple of small soft seeds in them. They are dark throughout WITHOUT a white center inside, and are quite juicy. Even when they are unripe, they are a consistent colour throughout. To me, your neighbour’s tree does not sound like elderberry. It’s better not to guess with unknown fruit, as it may be inedible or worse, poisonous.

  8. Georgia Butterfield

    Hi, I’ve actually got a query that I’m wondering if anybody can help me with.
    I’ve started making elderberry wine in a recipe similar to this one. I wish I’d found your one 1st tho as its just what I was after not wanting to use any chemicals. I used Mike Foxwells one for blackcurrant wine out of his Self Sufficient Larder book & substituted blackcurrants for elderberries topped up with a few blackberries as i hadnt enough.
    All seemed to go well until the wine went into a demijohn & no fermentation was apparent. I left it in the mash bucket a few days longer than I should have & it’s been in the demijohn just over a week now with no bubbling aparent tho I’ve just siphoned a bit out & it tastes & smells ok. There’s a sediment on the bottom & the hydrometer reading i’ve just taken is just under 0.990.
    The temp where its kept in my airing cupboard may be too low it was 20C last night so I tried puttin a hotwater bottle under it for the night & it was 27C this morn still. That probably wasnt such a good idea actually…
    Anyway sorry for the long winded story & if anyone can advise me it would be much appreciated!
    Also the recipe i followed said to just chuck the wine yeast in the bucket with the other ingredients so it’s possible the yeast hasn’t worked. G x

  9. Hi Georgia — Does the wine taste sweet or dry? If it tastes sweet, then it could be that the yeast was either not any good, or was killed by too warm temperatures, or the sugar being added too soon. If it tastes dry, then perhaps the yeast has finished its work and the wine just needs to sit in the demijohn in order to clear.

  10. I am being told that elderberries have 2 times the VIT A as carrots. Really???

  11. I googled it and found that elderberries have 600 IU of Vitamin A per 100g, whereas carrots have 20250 IU per 100g.

  12. I just finished picking 2 bushels of elderberries, with more to come. I want to make EB.wine.
    I made EB. wine last year and it turned out pretty good, I should have waited for it to mature but I enjoyed it just the same.
    My question is can I make the wine with the stems still on the berries? Like they do with grapes. Do you know if anyone has tried that and how it worked out?
    Thanks for your knowledge and web page

  13. Hi Dan,

    Everything I’ve read says to remove the stems, and that’s the way I’ve always done it. I’ve read that the stems will impart a bitter flavour, but don’t know this from personal experience.

    Two bushels!!! No wonder you don’t want to remove the stems, lol.

  14. At the bottom of our garden is an Elderberry in full fruit. Masses of blackberries fall over our fence and our raspberries are still in fruit…………Guess what I am going to do tomorrow. I have a wine kit as a present still unused. Tomorrow I will have a little fun.

    Sounds a lovely wine, I hope it is not so sweet.

  15. Stuart — This wine brewed out to full dryness for us. If your wine is still too sweet for your liking after fermenation is finished, you can always add more yeast to eat the remaining sugar.

  16. I have been making all types of wine for years. Last year I made 120 gallons of wine. 45 gallons of elderberry. I have recipe down to the max. 1 quart of my own elderberry juice makes 5 gallons of wine. I picked 440 pounds of elderberries last year and left half of the lot, just to many for one person to store in freezers. I use to use the whole berry but found it was in the way so I just steam the juice out and use it instead. 3 gallons of berries gets me 5 quarts of juice. I have 40 gallons ready to go now. I have looked into a small winery but the cost are out of this world. Write me if you need some insight. Also I have tried just about all yeast just to see the results? Wade

    • Thanks for the tip about elderberry wine; I have a steam juicer and will try your technique this year! 🙂

  17. I am in Canada and we don’t have sloes…. can you suggest an alternative

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