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Fortællinger fra Kreta | 53

Tales from Crete | 53

Something unexpected always happens when I'm alone in Crete, and I have been for the past few days, after the last group of wine-loving guests went home on Saturday. It was lucky that they were wine-loving guests, because it was a Wine Tour where we visited different wineries and tasted the exquisite drops. When we were in the mountains and eating one day at Dounias (which is not a winery at all), one of the guests was suddenly gone when he saw that grapes were coming into the place's private garage to be made into the traditional Romeiko wine, and immediately he was helping.

Here at Elsa Studios, where we like to live, Pantelis, who is the now retired and former owner of the place, had asked if I could just help him now that my guests had gone home anyway, and of course I could. He had already said that it was such a manly job that he needed help with, so I had some misgivings about it. Because I don't exactly think that I the stereotype of what I associate with a real man, at least not as far as physique is concerned. In that case, something has gone wrong with my biceps, and my muscle tissue in the upper body has probably sunk to the stomach region and probably looks more like half a box of Mythos than the lean gespenst I was in my younger days. "Mike, éla mazi" he said when he passed my terrace this morning and then I realized it was time to follow him. Just around the corner, he had driven in his blue Ford lorry, on which was a 1,000 liter tub, filled with 500 kg of Romeiko grapes that had only been separated from the stems, and then I knew what the task was about. The task was that we now had to squeeze the juice out of the grapes, so that we could take what was to be used for next year's wine and the rest for this year's production of Raki. The challenge here, however, is that Pantelis doesn't have a press, which is otherwise used, and he also doesn't like us wading around in the grapes with bare feet and trampling. Instead, he has constructed a manual press in the form of a round wooden plate set on a wooden stick, where the plate just fits into a laundry basket with holes. And then it's about putting all your effort into squeezing the juice out of the grapes for the wine and gradually removing the fully pressed grapes, which must then ferment, distill and become the delicious Raki.

Several hours after Pantelis and I had used all our efforts to squeeze the juice out of the grapes, we set about getting the juice down into the cellar in some large plastic barrels. We rigged up all the equipment, with submersible pump, hoses and Storm P.-esque devices and an open telephone connection between Pantelis standing on the bed of the car by the big tub, with the submersible pump wrapped in a specially made filter for the occasion (homemade of course) and securely tied in the car. Meanwhile, I stood in the cellar so I could fill the barrels and keep an eye on them not overflowing. We didn't quite have a handle on the open telephone connection, and in the basement there was also a very bad connection, but it still ended up being 16 calls back and forth, just to say that juice was now coming through the hose into the barrel , now there was no juice, now there was juice again and then no juice again, etc. etc. The homemade filter kept stopping until either a proper stream came out of the empty thick hose, or nothing came out .

We were probably not quite as good at it as we thought, because the result was nothing more than approx. 250 liters of grape juice for wine. But the good thing about it was that there was more left over for the Raki - so in that way there is nothing bad, without it also being good for something else.

I have helped make wine in Crete before in a similar way, but then the equipment was a bit more modern and advanced, so it wasn't as hard work. But when you know that after a wine production like this, a good dinner awaits you tonight with a bottle of wine from last year's production with the food and a Raki to finish it off, all in good company, then it's all worth it and a good end to my last stay in Crete this year.

Did you actually know that before each bottle of wine that is produced, approx. 20 boxes of grapes weighing approx. 20-25 kg per pieces from harvest to finished production. It's a lot of lifting and heavy work, especially if you, like Pantelis, don't have machine power to help you. It kind of puts the price of a bottle of wine into perspective.

Kaló mina (good month)

Tales from Crete | Elena's - The taste of Greece

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