The Raki-making process in 3 steps
It’s that time of the year again, this part of my farm yard is full of barrils of grape pomace!
The smell is so strong, you cannot be mistaken about what is going on there!
The pomace is also called marc, which is its French name (“Traubentrester” in German).
It is the mix of grape skins, pulp and seeds left from the grape must after its liquid part has been taken out. It is the basis out of which Raki, the grape spirit widely served as a digestive in Crete, is distilled.
Here in Crete, you need a special license for distilling alcohol, which is not granted anymore from scratch, but is transmitted within families. Having inherited the license to distil Raki from my father (who inherited it himself from my grandfather), I distil Raki for myself, but also for other people around, who bring me their grapes after the harvest.
The process goes as follows:
After the harvest, the grapes are pressed, and the resulting mix of juice, seeds, pulp and skins of the grape, called the must ("le moût" in French, or "Traubenmost" in German) is left to macerate for a few days. The "juice" is then separated out from the must, as it will continue its fermentation alone to transform into wine. What is left is the pomace.
- Step 2: regularly stirring the pomace to stimulate the fermentation
The yeasts which form at the surface of the pomace naturally trigger the fermentation, but it is important to stir the mix regularly in order for the oxygen to access all of it, and facilitate this chemical reaction throughout the barrel.
The process goes on until all the sugar of the pomace has been transformed into alcohol, which normally takes about one month to 40 days.
- Step 3: distilling the Raki
This will be my main activity in a few weeks' time, when the fermentation is complete.
Details of the distilling process are now ready!
I stir the pomace manually. The whole process is completely natural, with no additives.
The grape pomace is not heated up either. It is left to macerate in the open air (it is still
around 35 degrees in the sun at this time of year).
Pomace from Sultana grapes (left) and from Syrah grapes (right)
What will be left unused from the fermented pomace to distil the Raki
will still be a strong natural fertilizer for my olive trees
Checking the level of sugar...
...which is still too high, of course, as the fermentation
needs at least four weeks to reach completion.
The carbon dioxide produced by the fermentation creates bubbles on the surface of the pomace