Cherry wine from the back yard

February 20, 2016

By Richard Burke

A bee buzzes around the Evans Cherry blossoms in May, 2015

A bee buzzes around the Evans Cherry blossoms in May, 2015

I’m constantly amazed at what can come from a garden. Here, in the middle of February, the day after we sat in our little corner of the world (a protected patio which has its own micro climate) warmed by solar heat, I’m stirring the brew in my basement.

Marlene picking cherries, July

Marlene picking cherries, July

It started about 10 years of years ago when I planted an Evans Cherry tree in the back yard. We’ve enjoyed its fruits ever since.

The brew in the basement is the result of our (mainly Marlene) picking about 35 pounds of cherries last July, pitting them and putting them in bags into the freezer so they’d keep until winter – and, by the way, boost the sugar content.

This week, I pulled 20 pounds of them out, put them into a jelly bag and let them thaw in the primary pail ’til the next day. I squeezed the bag to start the juice oozing (the cherries were still cold enough to make my hands uncomfortable), added water, yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, campden tablets and a litre of grape concentrate – not easy to find, it turns out, but available at the Grapevine. The mixture sat for a day, then I added yeast.

Now, three days later, it’s positively boiling – well it seems like that; it’s bubbling as the yeast gobbles up the 10 pounds of sugar I had added earlier.

Yeast working its magic in the cherry brew.

Yeast working its magic in the cherry brew.

Next week, the mix gets racked into a carboy, the process repeated a couple of times until the wine is clear. Then, I’ll bottle it and let the 30-plus bottles age six months to a year.

Thanks to Mike Stefanscik for his recipe (his measurements are in ice cream buckets) which I blended with a couple of other recipes I found online.

The wine’s a wonder – and right from the garden.

8 thoughts on “Cherry wine from the back yard

  1. my wife Judy and I would like to thank,you for allowing us to give a small talk at your March meeting. We are excited about teaching about the pollinating Mason Bee and how they can benefit the home gardener. We are in the process of launching a website that can be seen by googling googlesite.birdbrainiacs. We hope to provide local information about raising and using mason bees. Since we last spoke Karen at Green Haven nurseries has decided to carry our Mason Bee House so patronizing her business would be appreciated. We are also teaching a workshop at Perfect Poisies greenhouse in Pincher Creek on May 5 at 6 pm . It is a free workshop so fwwl free to attend.. Se eyou at the next meeting
    Roger & Judy
    the Birdbrainiacs
    587 425 4001.

  2. Not sure if you’ll see this comment, coming in years later …

    The cherry wine recipe looks fantastic, and I’d like to try it – but I’m wondering if you used a red or white wine concentrate? I’m guessing this makes 23l?

    • I used Evans cherries from our tree in the backyard. It produces 40 pounds every year, which we pitt and freeze. I retrieve 20 pounds from the freezer, usually in January, to make the wine. I also use one liter of grape concentrate. The rest is pretty a straightforward, routine fruit wine recipe. It produces more like 25 liters of wine. This year, I made two batches – we needed to take another 20 pounds out of the freezer in July to make room for this year’s harvest. Sorry this reply took so long. The day you sent your comment, I was flying back from Oregon after spending 11 days in the ICU there. That followed a head-on collision with a semi-trailer. My wife and I were fortunate to survive. Spent until early this month in hospital here.

      • Thanks for your reply! I do have a batch underway using Evans cherries – it’s almost ready for a second racking. I ended up using 25 lbs of cherries and a liter of red grape concentrate to make 23 l of wine. I didn’t use acid blend as the TA was already high enough and I’ve found that with berry wines – it tends to climb after fermentation. We’ll see how it turns out but it tastes promising already.
        I’m very sorry to hear about your accident and I wish you and your wife a full recovery!

  3. I made some Evan Cherry wine from a tree in my back yard. Supper fun experiment, with great results. Good balance of tart are sweet. Planning to make it a yearly event. Second year is in the carboy.

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