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What Are the Best Cherries for Wine?

Cherry wine

Where grape vines thrive, cherry trees (Prunus avium L.) thrive as well. Summers are cool, with little rain throughout the harvest season, making it ideal for cherry tree cultivation. Excessive rainfall during the ripening season causes cherries to split and discolor, making them unfit for winemaking. Although both sour and sweet cherries can be used to make wine, tart cherries are preferred in Mediterranean climates since sweet cherries require more chilling time. If sour and sweet cherries are both available, a mix produces the greatest cherry wine of all.


Cherry trees demand well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8 and a moderate to abundant fertility. A gradient or elevation in the landscape allows for optimal drainage, which helps prevent root rot and other illnesses caused by poor drainage. Sweet cherries grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, whereas tart cherries grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. Fruit trees require at least six hours of sunlight per day to produce fruit. Sweet cherry trees should be pruned to a central leader style in late winter, while tart cherry trees should be pruned to a modified leader style with a more open core for better air circulation and sunshine penetration. Use a balanced fertilizer blend that offers 1/8 pound of nitrogen per inch of tree diameter 1 foot from the ground or fertilize in the spring according to soil test results.

Sweet vs. tart

The chemical composition of a cherry influences whether it is sour or sweet. Tart cherries can have the same amount of sugar as sweet cherries, but they’re better for winemaking because they have more acids, which gives them a tart flavor. High acid content is desirable for winemaking, although it is not needed, as missing elements can be obtained from winemaking supply stores. Tart cherries produce a full-flavored dry wine. A sweet wine is made from sweet cherries.

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Requirements for chilling

Chill hours — the amount of hours when the temperature is between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the months of November through February — in a certain region determine fruit set. California’s San Mateo region experiences 400 to 700 cool hours per year, while San Francisco, on the coast, receives less than 500. San Mateo and San Francisco counties’ inland and higher elevation regions can suffer up to 1,000 chill hours. “English Morency,” a tart cherry that self-pollinates and fruits in as little as 400 chill hours, is one of the low-chill cherries. “Bing,” “Black Tartarian,” “Van,” and “Rainier” are sweet variations with a moderate cold. Cross pollination and 700 to 900 cool hours are required for these tasty cherries.

Split, cracked, or otherwise damaged fruit can hold bacteria that disrupts the chemical process of turning cherry juice into wine, thus blemish-free fruit creates the best wine. Only plump, glossy, highly colored fruit with green stems should be used, according to the Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service. Wine should not be made with small, shrivelled, or aged cherry.


I began by extracting one quart of the juice and storing it for making cherry jelly. I was left with 3 quarts of cherry juice as a result.

A fresh cherry is lovely, but does not last very long. We used to eat pound after pound of fresh cherries every day when they were in season when I was a kid in California, but the harvests never seem to finish.

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If you don’t live in Vermont, you can grow “pie cherries,” or “tart cherries” which are full of cherry taste. They’re quite tart when eaten by hand, as their name suggests.

They’re great for preserving, and can also make a fantastic cherry wine.


I usually leave the juicing business to sugar, when producing fruit wine. Simply muddle all the sugar alongside the fruit – this will allow the juice to naturally flow out.

This method was utilized to make strawberry and peach wine this past year. The same approach would work perfectly with cherries.

To begin, use a potato masher to mash the fruit and sugar together (regardless of whether it is whole or pitted). For opening the cherries’ skins up, make sure it’s well mashed. (Avoid using food processors, as that could damage the pits, resulting in a bitter-tasting wine).

Allow at least 24 hours for the maceration of the fruit inside the sugar, before straining through cheesecloth or a cherry bag.

Alternatively, if the fruit has been pitted, simply throw the sugar and fruit in a fermentation bucket and pull off the primary fermentation.

This time, however, I’d recently purchased a steam-juicer for the production of the large volumes of black-currant jelly that we prepare every year. Shortly later, the cherries became ready, so I went ahead and used the juicer to prepare the juice.

In the juicer, I put cherries weighing precisely 10 pounds.

The cherries totally released the juices after around 90 minutes of gradual boiling. I was able to extract the juice and, thanks to the draw-off tube, I did not have to use a cheesecloth or perform straining.

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Those 10 pounds allowed me to extract a complete gallon worth of cherry juice. Let me mention that cherry wine will not usually require that many cherries.

Note that, since cherries do not contain the kind of sugar present in wine grapes, you will have to add a bit of sugar by yourself.

In addition, cherries have a poor balance of acid and tannins, and you need that balance to prepare a wine that is well-rounded. For this reason, you should throw in some acid blend and tannin powder.

The Amount Of Fruit Required for Cherry Wine:

At the start, I removed a quart out of the whole juice, and put that aside for the preparation of cherry jelly. Hence, I now had 3-quarts cherry juice remaining.

At this point, I will be assuming that you do not have any interest in preparing cherry jelly. If so, you can start off with around 6-9 pounds of cherry. Although a lot of recipes begin with just 5 pounds, this will depend upon how strong your cherries are flavored.

Black cherries, for instance, are much more intense and ‘wine-y’. Tart cherries, on the other hand, have plenty of water.

So, if you are using tart cherries, you should go with 6-9 pounds. With black cherries, you should be fine with around 5-6 lbs.

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