Pawpaw wine

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Just a Member
Aug 19, 2012
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A few years back I planted some pawpaw trees. 'Mango,' 'Shenandoah,' and several straight species. Deer rutted the grafted 'Mango' back to a stub but all the rest fruited this year and I got 9# of pawpaws.

I was on the fence about making wine. Keller, paraphrasing, calls it life-changing. Other reviews are not so generous. @cintipam says it has lots of lees. But there isn't really much detail out there on this wine. So I'm trying it and documenting everything here.

I started with 2# of frozen pulp (no skins or seeds) and 3# of peeled, fresh fruit with seeds. Keller indicates you can just peel them so I didn't bother removing the seeds from the last 3#. All this went into a mesh bag with 1# 12oz sugar. Keller calls for 7 pints of water (doesn't he always?) but I used around 8.5 pints, thinking I need a little more for topping up and accounting for the heavy gross lees. I poured the boiling water over the fruit and sugar, mixed it up and let it cool. I skip the KMS up front whenever I use the Keller boiling water method. When cool, I added 0.1g Lallzyme EX, 1tsp pectic enzyme, and I let it sit overnight.

Next morning, I adjusted the SG to 1.085; final sugar 2# 1oz. pH adjusted from 4.51 to 3.54 with 2.75t citric acid. I added usual doses of Booster Blanc and Opti White, along with 1/2tsp tannin.

Lately with these 1 gallon whites I've made two changes; I start with 1/2 packet of yeast instead of a whole packet, and I use cooling packs to slow the ferment. So I rehydrated 1/2 pack of QA 23 with GoFerm and pitched it this morning.

Pics below.
1 - fruit
2 - before pouring water over the fruit and sugar
3 - must last night
4 - must this morning before pitching the yeast - it is not as green-looking as this pic suggests

Will attempt to keep this thread up to date through sampling.




It's starting to foam. Added 1/8t Fermaid K and put the bucket in the chiller. We'll rotate the ice packs in the water in the larger bucket, attempting to stay 13-15C range.

It's at 1.075. Added 2g bentonite and pulled the ice packs out, I'm going to let the temp come up a bit. Smells just like pawpaws, no off odors.

I was out of town for 2 days, came back to a sluggish fermentation. SG 1.040. I dosed with a third and final bit of Fermaid K and pulled the bucket from the water bath. This morning it's chugging along at 1.032.

I pulled the fruit bag. There is going to be a lot of pulp to deal with here. I can afford to loose ~25% of the volume to gross lees. It may exceed that. The in-your-face pawpaw smell has subsided a lot. No off odors that I can detect. I grabbed a little taste and it is an interesting combination of tropical fruit flavors.


We made paw paw wine one year. If this is the first time you've made it, you might be disappointed in how it tastes after one year. It is quite astringent. But if you allow it to age in the bottle for a couple years, you'll be very pleased. We "lost" one bottle of it in the wine rack, and when we found it, it was 5 years old. It was fabulous.
We made paw paw wine one year. If this is the first time you've made it, you might be disappointed in how it tastes after one year. It is quite astringent. But if you allow it to age in the bottle for a couple years, you'll be very pleased. We "lost" one bottle of it in the wine rack, and when we found it, it was 5 years old. It was fabulous.

Did you bottle it dry?
As expected this wine has lots of pulp. After racking off the pulp I wound up about 100ml shy of a gallon.

I can't think of a similar wine exactly...banana perhaps? Having no worthy banana wine, I wound up topping up with some extra Vignoles. The characteristic pawpaw character is gone and the taste and smell are now closer to pineapple than anything else. I'm going to try to recover a little bit more from the top portion of the pulpy leftovers but I don't expect more than maybe 50ml.


Get the grafted version as they take half the time til fruit production. I must make sure my wife doesn't see this thread, as she is gaga for paw paws. We have many trees, some grafted, many wild.

Grafted to what other type of tree? Got lots of paw-paw trees here and some are fruiting.
You graft it to a paw paw. It's take a good 7 - 8 years before a paw paw will get to the point that it will bear. So, you take a young tree (1st year) and graft a year old section off of a tree that is currently bearing fruit. This fools the tree and it will bear fruit in about 3 - 4 years. Hard core growers will graft various varieties together looking for variations in taste.
From my limited understanding, it's difficult to clone a paw paw tree from a cutting or do some type of air layering propagation. Planting seeds MIGHT get you a paw paw tree that you like. The best method to getting a superior paw paw tree is to take a cutting from a known performer and graft it to a seedling. There are a handful of great performing cultivars, but they are somewhat expensive (like $30) because they are grafted.
Here in Ohio, paw paws are popular (especially with my wife). They make beer, wine, fruit pops, and other dished from them. (I'm an arborist, but my wife is the paw paw grafter). They even have a paw paw festival in late summer (which my wife will drag me to again this year). Yes, you can graft different varieties to achieve different results, but mostly it's done to cut the time to reach maturity in half.
How did this turn out? I'd really like to try if it works out.

I bottled this wine 1 year ago. Seeing this post prompted us to reach for a bottle tonight with dinner.

This wine is now 20 months old, 12 months in the bottle. I bottled it dry, and dry it's not bad. Initially has a bit of lemon candy taste to it. I got just ahint of bitterness which has me wondering if you really shouldn't get all of the seeds out before fermenting this wine. A little bit of time and simple syrup and this wine morphs into a nice off-dry wine with pear, banana, and most prominently peach flavors. We examined the label on the simple syrup bottle (it's store bought, not home-made) and noted that it has a bit of vanilla, which doesn't hurt this wine at all. Makes me wonder if it would take oak.

I started my winemaking journey with country wines. Over the last couple of years I've moved away from country wines. I really only like a few: guava, starfruit, lychee, blackberry on a good day. Gonna try jaboticaba this year. But I have to tell you this is pretty darn good paw paw wine. The paw paw trees are blooming like crazy right now. I had about 30# last year, expecting 50# this year. I'd make this one again. Changes to the original recipe:
  • tartaric/citric blend instead of straight citric - might resolve that weird lemon candy taste you get at first
  • no seeds at all - straight pulp
  • push the acid a bit higher (not much)
  • backsweeten a little bit (not much)
Let me see if I can get a pic...
Thanks for this @Stressbaby ! Today, I went looking for 'oranges' and ended up finding a guy selling pawpaws CHEAP, because they were starting to go bad. I bought five ( 25-30lbs) and am considering going back for more tomorrow.

These are not the amazing, SWEET and ice cream like, variety but, more: sort of sweet and a little hard. I sprayed them with metabisulphite, with the hope that they'll ripen a little before fungi/ wild yeast spoils them.

Like you, i have Qa23 yeast, as well as kv1116.