So you’ve planted your organic strawberries, tended them with care, looking forward to harvest. Wait! How many quarts did that patch produce? What am I going to do with all these strawberries? Make jam. Check. Strawberry shortcake? Done. Strawberry puree for desserts? Finished. Flash froze whole berries for smoothies? Yep. Dehydrated berries and stems for tea? Of course.
Now what? Ahh, yes, strawberry wine! Lots and lots of strawberry wine!
Never made wine at home? Until now, I hadn’t either, but I couldn’t bear to see those beautiful berries go to waste — and I do enjoy wine from time to time. Besides it was really quite simple. I recommend purchasing a wine making kit – one that includes everything you need to get started. I purchased mine online from a wine and beer supply company. You’ll need fruit, sugar, a fermenting container , air-lock, fermentation bag, hydrometer, siphoning hose, a container for racking, wine yeast, pectic enzyme, acid blend, yeast nutrient, yeast energizer, wine tannin, campden tablets , water and a cleaning solution for your equipment and containers to get started.
Wine making takes some time but it’s a fairly simple process.
In the first stage, you’ll wash and prepare your strawberries by gently crushing them either in a fruit press or with a potato masher – BY HAND (don’t use a food processor to do this step – it can cut the tiny seeds which can cause your wine to be bitter). Once you have mashed your fruit, you’ll put it into a mesh fermenting bag inside your fermenting container and add in all the winemaking ingredients except the yeast. You will add water to submerge your bag of fruit and then add crushed campden tablets to the container. Next, simply cover the fermenter with a thin, clean towel for the next 24 hours.
Once the first 24 hours have elapsed, it’s time to add the wine yeast to the mix. No need to stir, just add to the surface of your juice, cover with your thin, clean towel and wait. Lots of activity will begin in this stage – bubbling and foaming will generally occur for the next week or so.. You may give the mix a quick stir once a day with a wooden spoon during this time. In a week to 10 days, you may remove the pulp bag from the container and discard (you’ll be surprised how little pulp remains from what you started with).
Allow the juice to settle a bit so sediment falls to the bottom of the container before siphoning your wine base into another sterilized container. When siphoning, be careful not to stir the sediment up but get as much liquid as possible (it’s ok if a little sediment makes its way into your new container). If you need to add water back, you may do so now.
Your wine will now continue to ferment for the next 4-6 weeks in a stable temperature environment between 70-75 degrees F. It may take a little longer but this is fine. You are waiting for the wine to become completely clear. It’s best to attach an air-lock half filled with water to your container to allow the gases to escape during the fermentation process. This may or may not come with a kit, so be sure to check before you get to this stage. The airlock keeps tiny pests from getting into your wine, while allowing the gases to escape during fermentation. After 4-6 weeks, you may check the specific gravity of your wine using a hydrometer. Once the reading is between .990 and .998, you are ready to begin the bottling process.
Your wine will be dry at the end of the fermentation process. It’s at this time you may decide to sweeten your wine using sugar, honey, or another sweetener of your choice. Be sure to check your recipe for any additional additives you may need (to prevent re-fermentation after adding sweetener). Once bottled, you’ll want to allow plenty of time for your wine to mellow. The recipe I followed yields 5 gallons of wine which is approximately 25 – 750ml bottles.
Strawberry wine is best after about a year in the bottle! I can’t wait for next summer!
Stephanie is a wife and mother currently living in northeast Oklahoma. A former stock broker turned country girl, she and her family live on a micro-farm learning where food really comes from first-hand. She and her husband produce organic beef from grass-fed cattle and also raise free range chickens for farm fresh eggs. When two-thirds of her children became teenagers, she became more interested in wine-making and now dabbles in fruit wine and vinification. Many parents of teenagers will understand this motivation.