Raspberry Wine: How the pros do it

Winemaker magazine has a good article on commercial raspberry wine and how two wineries make it. There are striking similarities between the two, but each has a unique style and that means there are some important differences. Lets look at both and see what we can learn.

Denny Franklin of Pheasant Hollow Winery

Mr. Franklin aims for a must of 21-22 Brix, ferments dry, then sweetens to 4-6% sugar. That’s a lot of sugar, but the high acidity of raspberries leaves it tasting less sweet that you might think. He notes that pressing can be difficult and advises patience – be slow and deliberate. He doesn’t use recipes, but provides a lot of info on the typical quantities he uses. I was able to scale those down and distill his method into a recipe:

Ingredients for 6.25 – 7.5 gallons (23.7 – 28.4 liters) of Raspberry Wine
Item US Measure Metric Measure
Frozen Raspberries 40 lb 18 kg
Sugar 10 lb 4.5 kg
Water 1 gallon 3.8 liters
Superfood 7 g 7 g
Pectic Enzyme unspecified unspecified
Bentonite 7 g 7 g

Procedure

  • Use frozen raspberries, dissolve sugar in water then add to raspberries
  • Add pectic enzyme and stir
  • Pitch yeast (Lalvin EC-1118) when the must reaches 50F (10C)
  • Ferment at 75-80F (24-27C), punch down the cap twice per day
  • Press when it has fermented out (about 7-8 days)
  • Fine with bentonite (1 g/gallon)
  • Cold settle at 26-30F (-3 to -1 C)
  • Filter or age & rack until clear
  • Stabilize and sweeten to taste ~ usually 4-6%, 0.68–1.0 lb/gallon (81–118 g/L)

Christine Lawlor-White of Galena Cellars Winery

Lawlor-White offered less detail about quantities, so no recipe. But experienced winemakers should be able to make good use of her method. She notes the same difficulty in pressing as Mr Franklin, and suggests rice hulls. She doesn’t specify a residual sugar level or discuss sweetening, but I’ve got to think she’s not out to make dry wine with 100% raspberries.

  • Use frozen raspberries, freeze fresh ones, to get better extraction
  • Sugar to 23 brix, 8-14 Brix from raspberries & 1 Brix for each 0.084 lbs. (0.038 kg) sugar
  • Sulfite frozen raspberries to 50 ppm, then cover with dry sugar
  • Stir in sugar when the raspberries have thawed
  • Pitch yeast when must reaches 50F (Lavlin EC-1118 or V-1116)
  • Ferment between 50-60F (10-16C)
  • Skim off cap w/slotted spoon and discard to avoid cloudy bitter wine from ellagic acid contact
  • Press after 5 days, even if still fermenting, to get the wine off the fruit ASAP
  • Press with rice hulls to improve yield

One’s like a red, the other like a white

Both use frozen raspberries, neither dilutes with water, and both pitch the yeast at 50F. They both recommend Lavlin EC-1118 yeast. Mr Franklin makes his raspberry wine a lot like a conventional red wine: punch down the cap, press after it’s fermented out, ferment at a relatively high temperature. Lawlor-White, on the other hand, ferments cool and presses early. She also scoops out and discards as much of the cap as she can. It’s more like a white or rose. And yet, I imagine her white is full bodied and brimming with flavor – unlike any white or rose you’ve ever had.

Lesson learned: Avoid acid reduction – sweeten instead

What really stands out is that they both make undiluted raspberry wine, while nearly every raspberry wine recipe I’ve seen calls for a small amount of fruit (3 lb or so per gallon) and a lot of water. The reason for this, aside from cost savings, is that raspberries are so high in acid. Yet, neither winemaker mentions reducing the acid, and here I’d like to talk about my own experience. My last raspberry wine was from juice, like Lawlor-White I don’t want my raspberry wine fermenting on the fruit, and much less water than most recipes. I tried to make a dry wine and reduce the acid. It was a pretty drastic reduction and I think it affected the flavor. I wasn’t happy with the result, and I now recommend sweetening to bring raspberry wine into balance.

Red or white?

As I said, I’m wary enough of fermenting on the fruit that I make raspberry wine from juice. That said, the decision to make it like a red or white is a stylistic difference. The only way to know which is right for you is to make both and try them. Yes, that means drinking a lot of raspberry wine, but you’ll just have to take one for the team and drink up!



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