Vinedressers and winemakers

 

Until the mid-20th century, apart from the cultivation of olive trees, tobacco, cereals, etc., the majority of the farmers in Lesvos worked in vine culture, for the production of wine and raki (ouzo ). The size of the vineyards was usually small and the wine and raki production covered mainly the family needs and not necessarily the market demand. However, depending on the size of the vineyards and their yield, some producers sold a part of their production to raki shops, coffee shops as well as to individuals. Others, who did not deal with the wine and raki production, sold the grapes to wine-makers.

In general, wine production started with the harvest of the matured grapes and their separation from the stalks (stemfyla or tsamboura). Then, the producers used a big trough for the initial treading of the grapes. The crushing usually followed in a wooden hand-powered press with a pail at its lower part where they gathered the grapes. From the grape crushing, a mixture of must (grapes’ juice) and grape skin was produced, which was then poured into big barrels for the fermentation stage. In some regions, such as in Limnos, instead of barrels they used natural or artificial stone tanks, carved in soft rocks.

The duration of the fermentation depended on the type of wine they wanted to produce, dry or sweet. For the sweet wine, the fermentation lasted for a few days (about 6-7), whereas for rough (dry) wine, a little longer (about 8-10 days). The “straining” followed the fermentation, to remove admixtures and the remaining stalks (marc). Then, they stored the wine in pithoi (big earthenware jars) with wooden covers (stofrades) for airproof sealing. They left them covered for forty days in order for the wine to “age”. After the required time period, the wine was ready to be consumed or sold.

Sources used

  • Interview with Giannis Katsambas [vinedresser] with the help of his wife Virginia, in Thymiana, Chios, 08/07/2005
  • N. Dimitriou, Folklore of Samos, Athens 1986: 16-35