Chokeberry on a white background.

Chokecherries, or prunus virginiana, are a small fruit indigenous to North America, where in most parts of the country the tree grows wild. High in antioxidants, the berries are bright red when ripe and have an extremely bitter taste. Chokecherries should not be confused with chokeberries, which are an entirely different plant that share similar properties. Chokecherries have long been used for country wine-making because the fruits are plentiful and the wine-making easy.

Wash the chokecherries in a strainer. Place them in a stainless steel stockpot.

Mash the chokecherries using a potato masher. All of the berries should be cracked and mashed so the juices will flow from the berries. You may want to do small batches of chokecherries at a time to insure thorough mashing.

Cover the stockpot with cheesecloth and allow the berries to ferment naturally for two to three days. Stir the berries at least once a day.

Add 1 gallon of cool water and 5 lbs. of sugar to the berries and stir until the sugar is dissolved into the juice.

Add 1 package of red wine yeast to the mixture, stirring to distribute throughout.

Recover the pot with cheesecloth. Tie the cloth to the outside of the pot with string if necessary to keep it in place.

Place the pot in a warm, dry area where it will remain undisturbed.

Allow the wine to ferment for three weeks.

Siphon the wine into jars or bottles using food grade plastic tubing.

Cap the jars or bottles and store for three to six months. The longer the chokecherry wine ages, the better it will taste.


  • This recipe can be doubled easily by using twice the amount of berries, sugar and water. If made in a single stockpot or crock, 1 package of wine yeast will be sufficient to make the wine.