Bramble Wines, Sherries, and/or Meads

Bramble Tip Wine

April 9, 2012

I have been trying to get rid of some dewberry plants that became invasive. Nothing works except digging up the soil, running it through a sieve, and discarding any and all roots discovered. But we are well beyond that, as they cover too large an area, so I do the next best thing; I cut the growing tips several times during the growing season in an attempt to deny them any new energy to store away for additional growth. They are slowly declining and no longer spreading so I am encouraged. I hate to waste things, and all the cut growing tips are a perfect example. I do two things with them. I dry most for bramble tip tea throughout the year and I make bramble tip wine. The latter is definitely worth the effort.

The tender growing tips are best for the tea. For the wine, older growth will work just as well as the tender tips. Since I need at least a gallon of the tips for wine, I usually make it when I am a couple of weeks late in cutting back the new growth. When I say a gallon of tips, I mean a gallon pail filled and compacted lightly. If uncompacted, there would be about 3 gallons of bramble tips.

  • 1 gal compacted bramble tips
  • 2 lbs granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp acid blend
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 gal water
  • 1 sachet general purpose wine yeast

Cull and discard woody growth from bramble tips and wash remaining growth. In a stock pot, bring the water to boil. Add the bramble tips and maintain a low boil for an hour, covered. Remove from heat and allow to cool 30-40 minutes. Water and bramble tips will still be hot. Pour sugar, acid blend and yeast nutrient in primary. Place a colander over top of primary and carefully pour contents of stock pot into colander. Allow to sit 10-15 minutes to drain, then discard bramble tips. Stir water to dissolve sugar. Cover primary with cloth and set aside to cool a few hours. Add activated yeast in a starter solution and recover primary. When vigorous fermentation subsides, siphon off lees into secondary and attach an airlock. In two months, rack, add 1/2 teaspoon potassium sorbate and a finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, top up, and reattach the airlock. Wait two more months and rack again. Wait additional two months and check for clarity. If wine is not brilliantly clear, add 3 tablespoons Bentonite slurry or other fining agent, stir well, reattach airlock and allow 10 days for clearing. Rack carefully into bottles and seal. Wait at least six months in the bottle before tasting. Nine months is better. [Jack Keller’s own recipe]

Bramble Tip Wine

April 5, 2001
  • 1 gallon of tips of young blackberry shoots
  • 2 pounds granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp acid blend
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 7 pts water
  • Montrachet wine yeast

Boil the blackberry tips for one hour, adding water to replace evaporation. Put sugar in primary and strain water onto sugar, stirring until dissolved. Cover and set aside to cool. Stir in acid blend and nutrient, then add activated yeast. Recover and put in warm spot. When active ferment dies down (about 7 days), transfer to secondary and fit airlock. Put in warm place until fermentation completely stops. Rack into santitized secondary, top up and refit airlock. Move to a cold place for six months, checking airlock occasionally. Rack into bottles and age additional six months. [Adapted from recipe by Women’s Institute Members’ Home Made Wines, Syrups and Cordials , 1954, London]