From a local variety called ‘Liatiko’ we practice the age old tradition of wine making to produce a tasty deep red organic wine.
It takes more effort to produce organic wine and we certainly don’t do it just because ‘organic’ is the flavour-of-the-month buzzword. Organic wine production is worth the extra effort not only because it is self sustaining and doesn’t damage the soil but also because the end product is far superior to commercially produced wines.
In moderation, organic wine tends to give a happy feeling of well being rather than the depressant effect normally associated with alcohol; unlike some commercially produced wines, it will not give you a hangover either.
Liatiko grape buds prior to flowering (10 April 2006)
The subtle flowers (11 May 2006)
Looking more like grapes now (14 June 2006)
The trellis grown vines in May 2006 (their fifth year) above and July below
We planted the original 100 vines in March 2001 and have nurtured them ever since. In August 2004 we made just over 160 litres of excellent wine. The quantity was down in 2005 but the vines are still young; with careful pruning and management they should continue to produce more and more as they mature.
At the beginning of March (2006) we planted another 50 vines; they should add to the 2007 crop. Depending on sugar levels, cropping takes place around the second or third week in August.
This year we hope to make about 200 litres of wine. I say ‘hope’, because there are always lots of things that can go wrong… rain, hail, pests, disease… even excessive heat at the wrong time can ruin the crop.
23 July 2006, about one month to go
Just a week before the first year crop was to be picked we had three days of 48C (118f). The grapes turned to raisins; we felt similarly frazzled too :-/ Fortunately, heat like that is a fairly rare event, we would normally expect somewhere around 32C (90f) at that time of year.
Fingers crossed for this coming August, cheers!
August 2006 Update
We didn’t end up with 200 litres… we got 430!
September 2006 Update
A local still for producing Tsikoudia; commonly known as Raki
After the grapes are crushed and the must (grape juice) extracted and transferred to barrels to ferment and mature, the grape pomace (grape remains) are stored separately and also left to ferment. After some days*, the pomace is loaded into the still where it is heated from below. In this particular still, the heat source is a fire powered by ‘piranethee’. The black hopper (shown on the right) is loaded with piranethee granules which are automatically fed into the blower assisted fire via an electrically powered Archimedes’ screw.
Piranethee, or olive pomace, is the granulated dried remains of crushed olives, ie the leftovers after the oil has been extracted. On Crete, nothing goes to waste in either olive oil or wine production.
*anything from ten days onwards but the longer the pomace is left, the lower the quantity of raki produced because the alcohol evaporates. The strength of the raki is, for the most part, unaffected and is typically around 19 - 20% proof. The customer pays for each time the still is fired up so the cost per litre can vary anywhere between a few cents to just over 1 Euro per litre. This year I was very late getting my barrels of pomace to the still and consequently paid 70 Euros for three firings which produced just 68 litres of raki.
Anyway, to continue… after about half an hour heating, the still reaches 100 - 110°C, the pomace boils and produces steam for around another half an hour. The steam rises up through the overhead pipe and passes into the condensing vessel (the large copper cylinder on the left). The condensing vessel is like a steam engine working in reverse; the cold water in the surrounding jacket causes the steam to condense into liquid. This liquid is the fresh raki. It pours freely out of the pipe at the base of the cylinder and into the square galvanised metal box on the lower left. From there it is checked for alcohol content before being pumped via a mechanical filter into the customer’s chosen storage vessel.
Glass is the preferred medium for long term storage. If stored in plastic containers the raki will take on an unpleasant plastic odour; given time, it would ‘eat’ its way through the plastic! Probably gives some indication of the damage it can do to the stomach too…
Although this particular raki still probably looks rather rustic and Heath Robinson, it is one of the more sophisticated ones I have seen and used!
We also produce a wide variety of fruit and vegetables; organic of course, they taste fantastic.
Avocadoes don't ripen on the tree, you have to remove them and wait several days. Leaving a short length of stalk on each one prevents the flesh around the top from going black, also, the stalk will eventually fall off, indicating when the fruit is ready to eat. The collection above was removed from the tree two a day to ensure a steady supply for the table.
January 2009 - 267kg of olives, see the olives page for further details.
© Tim Rainey 2009
Last updated: 2 January 2010
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