Tennessee Wild Blackberry

This batch was made from a kit of Winexpert Vintners Reserve: Piesporter ($63 but I got it on sale for $44!) and 10 lbs. of wild blackberries (free but for the afternoon I spent picking them in the beautiful Tennessee countryside, thanks to my friend Jerry). I was hoping to make a straight blackberry wine, but 10 lbs. just wasn’t enough. I had this piesporter kit waiting to be made and that’s how wacky wines are made!

Status Date Specific Gravity Fluid Temp. Air Temp.
Assemble Must 2010-06-26 PM 1.096 75°F 78°F
Primary Fermentation 2010-06-27 AM 1.096
2010-07-01 1.000
Secondary Fermentation 2010-07-03 1.000
Clearing 2010-07-10
Second Clearing 2010-07-24
Bottling 2010-08-24

Primary Fermentation

Along with the bentonite that came with the kit I added some acid blend, yeast nutrient, 6 campden tablets and pectic enzyme. The pectic enzyme and the campden tablets should ensure that there are no stray yeasts or bacterias in the must.

Once those items were well mixed in the initial half gallon of hot water I placed the nylon bag in the primary fermenter and dumped the blackberries in (I had rinsed and inspected prior). Once the I had the nylon bag tied off with some white string, I a sanitized hand to crush the blackberries. Once that was done I added the riesling juice and filled to the 6-gallon mark with filtered tap water.

I also added 6.5 cups of sugar to increase the initial specific gravity. I am assembling all of this in the evening and will pitch the yeast, the Red Star Premier Cuvée that came with the kit, in the morning.

Secondary Fermentation

Mental note: If you will be including elder flowers and you’re already using a nylon fruit sack, put the elder flowers in the sack with the fruit. As I just discovered, elder flowers don’t settle out like the wood chips included in other kits do. Not that it’s the end of the world, and they might settle out nicely as the wine proceeds. We’ll see.

Not a whole lot to report otherwise. Wringed out the fruit and racked the wine into a clean carboy. Judging by the specific gravity this next week will be more a clearing than a secondary fermentation. The fermentation went really fast, probably because rather than attaching the lid with the airlock right after pitching the yeast, I pitched the yeast and only covered it with a damp cloth for the first two or three days. This yeast was not oxygen-starved in any way! I’m always curious about these two different approaches and whether or not there’s any benefit in doing it either way. The kits all use the lid-n-airlock method, but most of the homemade recipes use the damp cloth method. I also wonder about some of the homemade recipes that state that their wine will ferment for a month or more. I’ve yet to see fermentation last longer than a month.


After the first clearing was complete most of the elderberries had settled to the bottom, right on top of the lees. I picked a few more out by racking from the carboy to my primary fermenter bucket. Once I racked it back into the carboy only a few elderberries remained. So far, so good.

Secondary Clearing

Taste tested the wine and found it to be rather “thin”. Not satisfactory. So, in order to make something useful of it I proceeded to add 2 cups of bacardi rum and 1.5 tsp of grape tannin. Thoroughly mixed it up and set it aside for more clearing.