"Have you ever heard of blackcap berries? Do
they make wine?" Randy Carter, Custer County, Idaho
Blackcaps are members of the raspberry subgenus of the Rubus genus. There are two berries commonly called “blackcap.” In the western half of North America Rubus leucodermis is is one of two species called the Western Raspberry (the other is Rubus nigerrimus), but it (R. leucodermis) is also called blackcap. In truth, the fruit vary from dark purple to black, but occasionally ripen to a yellow-red. In the eastern half of North America, Rubus occidentalis, the true black raspberry, is also known as blackcap. All of these are native species.
The western blackcap is inferior to the eastern species in size, flavor and sweetness, but still worth harvesting for winemaking purposes. Even when ripe, it often retains some residual astringency and therefore is usually made into a sweet wine. The recipe below does just that, but the degree of sweetness will depend on your own taste and preference.
Pick only dark, ripe berries. Combine water and sugar and put on to boil, stirring occasionally. Wash and destem berries. Put in nylon straining bag, tie closed and crush in the primary. Pour boiling sugar-water over berries to set the color and extract the flavorful juice. Add acid blend and yeast nutrient. Allow to cool to room temperature and stir in crushed Campden tablet. Cover primary. After 12 hours, add pectic enzyme and recover. After additional 12 hours, add wine yeast, recover and stir daily for 7=8 days. Remove nylon bag and allow to drip drain (do not squeeze) about an hour. Return drippings to primary and continue fermentation until specific gravity falls below 1.015, stirring daily. Rack to secondary, top up with water and fit airlock. Use dark secondary or wrap to block light and preserve color. Ferment additional 2 months, then rack into clean secondary. Refit airlock and rack again after additional 2 months. Wait a final 2 months, rack again and stabilze wine. Sweeten to taste and refit airlock. After 10-14 days, bottle in dark glass or store in dark place. Drink after one year. This is an excellent sweet wine, but you must ferment the full 6 months and age one full year. [Author's own recipe]
My thanks to Randy Carter of Custer County, Idaho for requesting this recipe.