Blackberry Wine Recipe

Not sure what to do with all the delicious blackberries you’ve grown from your thornless blackberry bushes? Try making some wine! This blackberry wine recipe from Fred Schwenk was one that has been handed down from his grandfather.

Equipment needed:

  • Blender
  • Juice strainer
  • Grade A whisky barrel. These can be purchased from most whiskey distillers very reasonably.
  • 30-gallon trash barrel.
  • Canoe paddle or something similar for stirring.
  • Cloth cover for trash barrel
  • Cool place to store wine (around 70 degrees is best)
  • Drill & bits
  • gallon jug or similar container
  • 5 foot or more of 3/8 inch or larger plastic tubing.
  • Wood drain valve available from most local beer/wine stores.
  • 4 concrete blocks or similar to set barrel on.


For start-up:

  • 25 gallons of blackberries, fresh or frozen.
  • 10 pounds of Pure Cane Sugar
  • 15 gallons of un-chlorinated water (treated water can kill yeast)
  • Yeast (Fred lets wild yeast do the fermentation but if it does not start naturally, then he will add common baker’s yeast, or you can use specialized wine yeast)

For completion:

  • 100 pounds of Pure Cane Sugar
  • 25-35 gallons of un-chlorinated water (treated water can kill yeast)


  1. Clean the trash barrel and wash thoroughly using un-treated water if possible.
  2. Crush 25 gallons of fruit in blender and place in trash barrel. Add water and 10 pounds of Pure Cane Sugar and stir with canoe paddle. Cover with cloth or old rug or sheet.
  3. Every day remove the cover and stir with canoe paddle and replace cover. You should start seeing foam on the top in a few days, otherwise you will need to add yeast of your choice.
  4. Continue this process for 2-3 weeks.
  5. After repeated sealing, fill the whiskey barrel with water to let it swell up and seal. You can use the un-chlorinated water, but you will need 55 gallons and you can re-use some in the final stage. If you have a Grade A barrel you should not have any leaks after 2-3 days but keep it full until you are ready to place the berry mixture in it.
  6. Remove bung stopper and drill hole the same size as the outside diameter of the plastic tubing. Insert tubing in the hole with about an inch sticking through the bottom side. Set aside.
  7. Drill hole in one end of the whiskey about two inches from the bottom edge and the same size as the wooden valve.
  8. Place whiskey barrel on concrete block with the bung hole on the top.
  9. Next, remove the mixture from the trash barrel and strain to remove seed and pulp. Place juice in whisky barrel. Add 100 pound of Pure Cane Sugar and fill barrel with un-chlorinated water to the top. Replace the bung stopper with plastic tubing.
  10. Afterwards, fill a gallon jug with water and insert the free end of the plastic tubing so the end is close to the bottom as this lets gas escape from the whiskey barrel but prevents air from getting back into the whiskey barrel. Spread a few drops of liquid soap around the bung stopper and plastic tubing. After that, if there are any bubbles then you have a leak, and it needs to be sealed using kitchen wax.
  11. Tradition is to start the wine in late summer or fall and then on Christmas day to drain off a small amount to taste test, often inviting a few friends or relatives and then close it up and wait until Easter for another tasting as by this time the bubbling should have stopped, and the wine is done.
  12. Finally, you can store the wine in the whiskey barrel or put it into bottles. If you bottle the wine be sure to keep the bottle on its side to keep the cork or lid wet and prevent air from entering the bottle.