Making Cherry Fortified Wine

In many parts of the world it is cherry season. Cherries make excellent wines and are very versatile in the types of wine styles that can be produced with this fruit. One of my favorite fruit wines is the fortified cherry wine. It can be a great dessert wine, fortified to over 16% alcohol, sweet, full bodied, highly complex in character and has an after dinner application, used in cocktail blends, kir royal, on ice or used in coulies, etc.

What follows is a sample recipe that I have used myself with great success. It is based on a 1000L batch but it can easily be scaled to what ever size of production you need.


Basic Ingredients:

* 1000L Freshly crushed, depitted and pressed sweet cherries
* 5 KG Malic Acid (or what ever is needed to bring TA to 8-8.5g/L)
* 50g Lafase Fruit
* 350g Diamonium Phosphate
* 240g Fermaid K
* 250g Lalvin R2 yeast – great yeast to ferment wines with high sugar and great aroma enhancer if fermented at lower temperatures.
* 100g/hl calcium bentonite (or what ever amount is needed as per bentonite bench trial test)
* Isinglass (added as per standard instructions)
* Potassium Metabisulphite
* 4 KG of Medium Toast American Oak Chips or access to used American 220L Oak barrels
* 140L of 96% neutral ethyl alcohol or required volume for fortification

Method of Production:

1. Crush, de-pit and press the cherries, pump juice into tank. To lower loss from inefficient pressing (if hydro press is used) the use of “Tribect” in crushed must may be beneficial
2. Add sugar, top up to 1000L. Adjust specific gravity to S.G. 1.130-1.135
3. Add enzymes at temperature of 20’C, let must stand for 8 hours or so.
4. Add DAP
5. Pitch in rehydrated yeast.
6. After wine has started to ferment, monitor the lowering of the specific gravity very carefully and often.
7. At S.G 1.050, skim off surface any solids
8. Measure alcohol attained at this step.
9. Use alcohol addition formula to know how much ethyl alcohol to add to bring solution to +/- 18%.

Fortification Formula: VS=VWx(AW-AA/AS-AW)

VS=volume of spirit
AW= alcohol level wanted
AA= actual alcohol (determined in step #8)
AS= alcohol level of spirit (usually 96%)

10. Add the alcohol directly to the wine. This will stop the fermentation and give you an alcohol level of about 18%. One day later, stabilize with KMS (add 50-60 PPM)
11. Fine with Bentonite (100 g/HL), gelatin and Isinglass as per standard additions.
12. Chill the wine to 0’C
13. Rack after 15-20 days and filter to 0.8 micron
14. Measure FSO2 and adjust to 60PPM.
15. Adjust acid to a TA of 8-8.5g/L (with potassium carbonate if needed to lower or addition of malic to increase)
16. Place wine in oak barrels (American Oak) or add oak chips at a rate of 4g/L for 5 – 6 weeks.
17. Remove from oak when enough flavour and oak complexity is achieved (should have more oak contact than dry wine)
18. When wine is properly aged and developed (6-8 months minimum), do final adjustments (blending, SO2, TA, pH, SG, RS, etc)
19. Adjust Residual Sugar of wine to 100-120g/L or as per taste profile wanted.
20. Sterile filter to 0.45 micron (may not be required).
21. Conduct all stability tests and adjust if needed
22. Bottle the wine or age in bulk longer.


* May need to blend finished wine with some neutral apple, pear or grape base wines to adjust final taste profile. No more than 10% would be needed.
* Regular wine specs should be measured to be able to quickly adjust the recipe depending on its development.
* Small amounts of glycerine may be required at stage #18 to add body if required

If you do make this wine, do let me know how it turns out. Better yet, send me a bottle when you are finished and I would love to taste what you come up with!

Happy Winemaking!

One thought to “Making Cherry Fortified Wine”

  1. Cherry would be best in a sweet style. What kind of fruit would you recommend for a dry fortified (ageworthy) fruitwine? Apple and pear are the most common like pommeau in france for example. Are there other recommendations? Thank you for the great input of your work

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