Making Sour Cherry Wine

A telephone call at 7:00 this morning changed our idea of what to do this week-end.  It was our neighbor calling to tell us that her cherry tree was loaded with fruit.  She asked if we would be interested in helping her pick the cherries.  She needed a couple of buckets and we could have the rest.  That kind of offer we could never refuse.  So we put our plans on hold, gathered our buckets and went down the road to our neighbors for a day of cherry picking.  We returned home with 40 kilos ( 80 lbs) of  sour cherries.  It’s time to make cherry wine.

Sour Cherry Wine (Dry)


  • 40 lbs (18 kg) fresh sour cherries
  • 16 lbs (7 kg) finely granulated sugar
  • 45 pints (21 litres) water
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 packet wine yeast


Pick only the nicest cherries from the tree, rejecting any that are unsound or moldy. Crush the cherries with your clean feet or other means, without breaking the stones. Put the crushed fruit in a large primary container and set it in a warm place, the ideal temperature is 70F (20C). Stir 5 lbs (2 kg) of sugar into 2 pints ( 1 liter) of water and heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the hot water with dissolved sugar over the crushed cherries. Repeat until all the sugar is added. Add the remaining water and yeast nutrient. Stir well, cover with a clean tea towel, secured with an elastic band, and set aside for 12 hours. Check specific gravity, it should be 1.090. Adjust sugar if needed. Pour activated yeast on surface of juice (do not stir) and cover with a tea towel, secured with an elastic band. The next day stir the yeast into the juice. Within 24 hours the juice will begin to heat up and bubble. The fruit skins and pulp will rise to the top of the vessel. This is called a cap. Punch down the cap and stir daily. After one or two weeks, depending on how warm is the place where your primary vessel is located, the fermentation will slow down.  The day before you are ready to transfer the juice, do not stir or punch down the cap.  The fruit will remain compacted at the surface of the vessel.  Gently lift out the fruit and strain (press lightly but do not squeeze).  You will be able to remove most of the fruit making it easier to separate the fruit from the juice.  Then strain off the remaining juice.  At the bottom of the primary vessel will be the seeds and pulp from the fruit.  Don’t bother staining it, stop when you get to the this layer.  It will cloud your wine.  Transfer juice to a secondary glass demijohn.  Fit the secondary with an airlock. After two weeks, rack, top up, and refit airlock. Rack again in two months and again two months later. When bubbling stops in the airlock, wait one week, then rack wine into bottles and store in cool dark place for one year. Serve slightly chilled.

Crush the cherries

primary fermentation vessels

Put crushed fruit in a primary fermentation vessel

Fermentation will begin within 24 hours

Punch down the fermentation cap daily.

Prep Time: 3 hours

Time until finished: 1 year

Yield: 80 liters

If you are interested in learning more about making wine see the links below:

Making Wine

Plum Wine