Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | February 7, 2012

Homemade Country Wines

Right around the time of the Winter Solstice 2011, Keith and I enjoyed the last of the Elderflower Wine we had made just before we left Kansas for our new life on the road.

We’d long since finished off the Dandelion variety made the same spring, so we decided that it was high time to drag out the gallon jugs and airlocks, to replenish our supply of country wines.

The process is so simple, and the product, quite palatable, with no added chemicals or sulfites to cause allergies and headaches ~ that we encourage anyone with a bit of patience to give winemaking a try.

The term “country wine” is used for wines made from something other than grapes – like fruits, flowers, vegetables, grain and herbs.

They are not “fine wines”, but can grace any table, and provide maximum pleasure for a minimum of effort!

We had used fresh-picked dandelions and elderflowers for our first batches of wine, but as fresh was not available for this batch, we ordered died elderflowers and elderberries from E.C. Kraus.

We also ordered some Wine Nutrient to feed the yeast….although in years past, I just used crushed vitamin B1 tablets for this purpose.

Our recipes are a combination of those from a well-worn copy of “First Steps in Winemaking”, and those that accompanied the elderberies and elderflowers from E.C. Kraus.

Ingredients Assembled ~ we're ready to brew!

Elderflower Wine: 1 oz. dried elderflowers, 12 oz. chopped raisins, 2 lbs. sugar, 1 pkg. Montrachet wine yeast, 1 TBSP. strong tea, juice of 3 lemons, 1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient, 14 cups of water.

Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the dried flowers. Then add sugar, raisins and lemon juice. Cool to around 71 degrees (this takes a while), and add the yeast, tea and nutrient.

Cover and leave to ferment 4-5 days. We funneled the concoction into a gallon glass jar and fitted with an air lock. Swish the contents around every day, to mix up the ingredients and help with fermentation.

Eldeberry Wine: 4 oz. dried elderberries, 8 oz. chopped raisins, 1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient, juice of 3 lemons, 2 lbs. sugar, 1 pkg. Montachet wine yeast (although in years past, I simply used Fleishmans bread yeast).

Mix all ingredients together except the yeast. We used a large glass crock. Stir in 1 quart of boiling water and let stand 20 minutes. Add 10 cups of water and let cool to below 80 degrees.

Then, sprinkle the yeast on top and cover. For the next 7-8 days, stir the mixture and mash the berries against the side of the container.

Country Wines ~ First Ferment

Note: These recipes make one gallon of wine (16 cups), but we start with just 14 cups of water so that when we add water to the neck of the gallon jug in the next step, we end up with a gallon, without diluting the product.

Once the waiting periods were over, we strained the wine into freshly washed gallon glass jugs, topped them off with water (as mentioned above), fitted them with air locks (to prevent bacteria in the air from entering the wine and spoiling it), and sat back to happily watch our wines ferment.

Beginning the Countdown to Consumption

Once the fermentation slows down, we will siphon the wine from the residue that accumulates at the bottom of the jugs, into clean jugs, re-fit the air locks and wait until the fermentation stops completely. Then, we repeat the siphoning process once again.

In time, the wines, which appear cloudy at this point, will clear on their own, and become lovely shades of deep gold and purple.

The final, and most difficult step in the entire process? Waiting for 6 more months before enjoying the fruits of our labors!



  1. Mom and I made some mead long, long ago, and your recipes are very similar to what I remember from the mead. It turned out to be a delicate flavored wine, but sweeter than what I prefer.

    • These country wines can be on the sweet side, and mead would surely fall into that category. Hopefully the yeast will eat much of the sugar and we will end up with a nice table wine ~ we’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. […] Homemade Country Wines ( […]

  3. […] Homemade Country Wines ( […]

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