Raspberry wine (oh so fine…)

A few weeks ago, we started some wine which turned out to be the best wine EVER, even better than the blackberry and elderberry wines we’ve made previously. We were both surprised at how smooth and delicious the wine was.

We collected the raspberries from our own bushes as they ripened, then froze them in single layers on parchment-lined baking sheets, before transferring them to freezer containers. As I’ve mentioned before, freezing the fruit eliminates the need to either use chemicals or boiling water to sterilise the fruit.

Joan J raspberries

Let me just do a little aside here and highly recommend the variety of raspberries that we bought in spring 2007. Joan J is a primocane variety (meaning it bears fruit on first-year canes) which produces heavy crops of sweet, delicious berries. BTW, you can get TWO crops per year from primocane raspberries by not cutting down the canes after they have finished fruiting (which is the usual advice). Instead prune just the tips of the old canes and the following summer you will get an early crop from these second-year canes. The new canes will also bear a crop starting in mid-summer. This year, we picked around 6.3kg (14 pounds) from the second-year canes, and about the same again from the new canes. (The row is about 4.5 metres / 15 feet long.) Two crops for the price of one, gotta love that!

But back to the wine. I used slightly more fruit than I have in past batches of wine, including some freshly frozen grapes. I also used a litre (quart) of white grape juice. The yeast used was Gervin varietal A. I’d read somewhere that putting the sugar in at the same time as the yeast can kill the yeast. Although I hadn’t had this problem with the other batches, I decided to add the sugar syrup a few days after adding the yeast (just before transferring from fermentation bin to demijohn), instead of at the same time.

Next year we will be using a lot more of our raspberry crop to brew this fine wine!

Raspberry wine

British       American
1700g   raspberries   3-3/4 pounds
500g   green grapes   18 ounces
2 UK pints   filtered water   38 ounces
1 litre   100% white grape juice   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 fruit. Freezing sterilises the fruit without having to use chemicals or boiling water. Freeze raspberries in a single layer on parchment paper-lined baking trays, then transfer to containers once frozen. Halve grapes, removing pips if they aren’t seedless, then transfer to containers and freeze. Freeze fruit at least two days ahead of time.

2. Put frozen fruit into a muslin hop bag, then into the fermentation bin, and add two pints (38 ounces) of filtered water. Cover and let stand 24 hours, or until the fruit is thawed and the whole mixture has come up to room temperature. Add juice to 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. Feed pulp to the compost bin if you have one.

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

8. Pour into a sterilised one-gallon glass 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. 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). We use old screw-top wine bottles, that way we don’t have to bother with corks.

This wine was ready to drink as soon as it was bottled. There was almost no sediment in the second demi-john, so we got over six bottles of wine.

Cost was a bit more than last time because of the fresh grapes we added: one gallon (six bottles) of this wine cost about £4.25 ($6.50), which works out to around 70p ($1.07) per bottle. That’s still much cheaper than the cheapest supermarket wine. And much finer tasting!


  1. interesting info on raspberries. I plan on planting lots of berries once I get rid of the blackberries from hell in my backyard. they are such a problem in the pacific NW.

    you totally need to design a wine label if you haven’t already! and of course post a pic of it for nosy people like me 🙂

  2. Blackberries are also a problem on our allotment. We’ve left a few at the back, under the trees, but they keep popping up where they’re not supposed to. Dig deep and you’ll eventually get rid of them (hopefully).
    I’ve thought about designing wine labels… right now I’ve just got printer labels with “Raspberry Wine 2008” printed on them. Pretty lame, I know, but at least I used a fancy font!

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