This Blackberry Port recipe was written and contributed by David Knoll.

Where I live in Oregon, Blackberries grow as weeds. In July when Blackberries are ripe, I can walk across the road to my neighbor’s property and pick 5 gallons of Blackberries along his pasture in about 2 hrs. They are big and juicy.

Blackberry Port

David’s Wines

Blackberry Port was one of my first wines I ever made because of the abundance of available free fruit. If blackberries are not available where you live, growing wild, you can purchase frozen blackberries at the store. I usually make 6 gal. at a time, but will give the recipe for 1 gal.

Things you will need:

  1. 15 lbs of blackberries (6.8 kg)
  2. 3 lbs of sugar (0.9 kg)
  3. ½ tsp Pectic Enzyme
  4. 1 tsp yeast Nutrient
  5. 1 pkg Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast
  6. 1 campden tablet

After the wine is finished you’ll also need:

  1. Potassium sorbate
  2. sugar to taste
  3. brandy

Making Blackberry Port

Fermentation
Start by taking frozen blackberries out of their package and placing them in your primary fermenter or food grade bucket to unthaw. Usually takes 24 hrs.

When the blackberries are unfrozen stir in 1 tsp of pectic enzyme per gal and yeast nutrient. Place a loose cover or cloth over the fermenter top.

I do not add acid blend, because I don’t add water to my blackberries. Undiluted they have enough acid in them already.

Take yeast out of its packet and place it in ¼ cup of warm water for ½ hr to bloom. Gently pour yeast over your blackberry must. Then replace a loose cover. Within 24 hours you should have an active fermentation. Stir in yeast. As your must pushes up a cap each day punch it down and mix liquid with solids twice a day. Fermentation should last 7-10 days. After about 1 week you will notice a slowing of the cap build up each day. When you can easily mix the solids with the liquid without any effort, it is time to separate the liquids from the pulp and seeds. Pour off the free run liquid from the solids and place in a sanitized bucket. Place the pulp in a press bag and squeeze out all liquids into your bucket.

Secondary Fermentation

Put all the liquids in a carboy or glass container about ⅘ full and put a sanitized air lock on the top. You will probably notice a small amount of burping as the last of the fermentation takes place. This may take as long as a month. At this point it is easy to get a liquid sample to test with your triple scale hydrometer. We are looking for a reading of 1.000 that indicates all sugar is gone. Once the sugar is gone and the yeast has nothing to eat, it will slowly die. The best indication that this is happening is that lees (sediment) will form a pink layer in the bottom of your carboys. And the liquid above will turn dark black.

Rack off all clear dark liquid into a clean carboy, while leaving the sediment at the bottom. Discard the sediment and rinse out the carboy. At this point you need to top off your glass container. Since we have never added water, if the air space is not too large you can top off your carboy with water and not risk watering down your wine. IF the air space is larger than ⅕ you may need to purchase a store bought blackberry wine.

Be aware that your purchased wine may have a small amount of sugar in it and your wine may continue to burp a small amount until that sugar is gone. Place a clean air lock on top once no burping is observed. Now your wine is finished and needs to clear. There should be very little space between your wine and the top of the carboy.

Let your wine stand for a month and rack again. Each time the wine should be getting clearer and clearer. After the 4th racking, it is time to bottle.

Bottling

For bottling I always invite several friends to help. I add potassium sorbate (manufacturers recommended dose/gal) and then add sugar stirring to dissolve the sugar to taste. It is at this point that my friends and I try to come to a consensus as to the desired sweetness.  Be careful, each time you sample to see it you have added enough sugar your judgment can become impaired, as well as your friends’. Once you agree on sweetness then add brandy. Lastly add 1 pint of brandy per gal to raise the alcohol content to about 20%. Bottle it. You now have Blackberry Port. Enjoy.

About the Author

To learn more about my homemade wine techniques, please visit me at www.howtomakehomemadewine.net.

Creative Commons License
The recipe presented on this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

  • Adam Beshara

    Whoa! A pint of Brandy per gallon! So that turns into a gallon and a half of Brandy in a 6 gallon batch of port. That seems like a lot to me but I’ve never tried it. Can anyone confirm that amount?
    Oh, and thanks for sharing the recipe David. It sounds great!

    • Adam, I ran some numbers using the Pearson Square and found the ratio of brandy to wine to be about right. Of course it depends on the alcohol content (ABV) of both the blackberry wine and the brandy. Here are two examples.

      If the wine is 17% ABV you’ll need a pint of 40% ABV brandy to get to a 20% ABV port. If the wine finishes at 15% ABV then you’ll need a pint of brandy at 55% ABV. Brandy alcohol content can range from 35-60% ABV so these numbers are right in there.

      I hope this helps!

  • Skip O’Neill

    My second favorite fruit (behind the grape) is the wild blackberry. I will try making the wine this summer. Thanks David!

  • j2d2

    I’d like to try this. But, I’d like to adjust before fermentation. Do you have any sugar, acid or sulfite figures?

    • For the most part the sugar levels are going to be to taste. If you put more sugar in the must to produce a higher alcohol finished wine you can use a less potent brandy to get to 20% ABV. Back sweetening is of course to suite your own palate.

      David doesn’t use acid blend but you could determine if your blackberries could use an acid boost by testing the titratable acidity. I don’t really have a good idea of what the acidity of a blackberry is unfortunately.

      Lastly, sulfites levels will depend on the pH of your finished port. I would stick to the suggested normal sulfite levels outlined in this article: Adding Potassium Metabisulfite to Wine. The dose of brandy will help with stability though as this was the purpose of adding brandy to wine in the first place. It stabilized the wine so it could be stored in barrels in the bottom of a sailing ship to go back to Europe.

  • Myles

    Great recipe, I have it in the autumn calendar. A few questions / clarifications if I may
    1 There is no water added at start – just lump in blackberries and throw on the started yeast.
    2 Is the suggested sugar detailed for sweetening only ie the backberrys contain enough sugar to ferment themselves.
    3 If using bush picked blackberries how do you ensure a wild yeast dosent take over.
    Also if I started with 7kgs of blackberrys, typically what volume of liquid would I be placing in a carboy.
    Lastly you could use sterilised marbles to top up without resorting to buying the stuff you are trying to make.

    Thank you again for sharing this recipe.

    • Hi Myles, here are my thoughts on your questions:

      1 – the 3lbs of sugar is to raise the sugar level of the must sufficiently enough to produce a finished wine with enough alcohol. David mentions that after the wine is finished you may need more sugar to sweeten to your liking.

      2 – I did some research on this and found that blackberries have roughly 4.88 grams of sugar per 100 grams of fruit. Table grapes have 16.25 grams of sugar per 100 grams of fruit. Wine making grapes typically have much more sugar than table grapes so the 3lbs of sugar would be needed to make a proper blackberry wine before adding the brandy.

      3 – To guard against wild yeast fermentation you could crush / press the fruit, treat it with potassium metabisulfite, and pitch your yeast 24 hours later. That’s typically what’s done with wine grapes as well.

      With 7kg of blackberries you could expect to get 1.03 gallons (3.9 liters) of juice. The pint of brandy will add another 0.5 liters so you would be good with a 5 liter container.

      Topping up with marbles is certainly doable. Just be careful of dropping them into the carboy. I’ve heard of people doing this and they wound up cracking the bottom of their carboy. I’d consider using a mesh bag to hold the marbles.

      Your other option would be to use an inert gas such as Private Preserve to displace the oxygen. Just purge the head space and seal the carboy up with an airlock. Solid plugs can lead to trouble if anything is going on in the wine still or if there are temperature changes.

      Great questions Myles!

      • Myles

        Thanks Matt – you are a gent. Points taken.
        But just to confirm no water is added to the blackberries before the yeast is pitched.
        All the best.