Making wine the Mürefte way in a local wine factory
Wilco Van Herpen
The fermentation of wine takes place in huge, stainless steel tanks and after the aerobic fermentation is finished, wine makers have to transfer the grape juice to another, clean tank.When I was 15 years old, I was making different kinds of wine in my bedroom. Every now and then, my father would come to my room to check on the situation. He gave advice and helped me find the right fruits for my wines. One of my favorite wines was pear and elderberry wine. Seeing the whole process of fruit becoming wine was very interesting.
There are four steps during the making of wine:
1) The open fermentation process also called aerobic fermentation.
During this time the fruit pulp comes in direct contact with the air. You have to put a clean cloth over the container you make the wine in, otherwise flies could get into the pulp and spoil the concoction. Every now and then, you have to stir this mixture so that the pulp that is on the underside can come into contact with the air.
2) Closed fermentation (anaerobic fermentation). You filter the fruit pulp and put the liquid in a glass bottle. You close the bottle with an air stopper, a little plastic thing that prevents air getting into the bottle. It is filled with a little bit of water to avoid, again, the little fruit flies from getting into the bottle. Especially at the beginning, the fermentation can be quite powerful. Slowly, the fermentation will decrease until it stops.
3) Slowly the wine will become clear. Every time you have to remove the clean liquid so that the remaining fruit pulp stays in the old bottle. You continue to do this until the wine is completely clear.
4) Putting the wine into bottles, close it with a cork and wait until you can drink it. This can take from two months to two years.
The wine I made was quite strong. I once saw an alcohol percentage of 18 percent. During Christmas dinner, I gave my grandmother a glass and she loved it. These kinds of wines are also for sale in Turkey. All you have to do is to visit Şirince and you can find interesting wines like banana, mandarin, fig or almond wine. While I was in Mürefte, I was able to visit a wine factory. Of course there is no comparison at all, but I saw here that the system is exactly the same.
The smile I saw at local wine master Adnan Kutman’s face seven years ago while looking at the unloading of some trucks from Diyarbakır had disappeared. The trucks were filled with grapes and 2007 would be a beautiful year to make wine. Adnan looked worried while his men were unloading some grapes from a local small farmer. Finding enough grapes this year was difficult.
Some rules are followed
As always while making wine here, in this factory as well, they have to follow the same rules. First aerobic fermentation, then anaerobic fermentation and last but not least, the wine has to rest. The only difference is the amount of wine; 30 liters of mine against thousands of liters for Adnan. And that is where I saw interesting things around the factory.
The fermentation takes place in huge, stainless steel tanks and after the aerobic fermentation is finished, they have to transfer the grape juice to another, clean tank. On the bottom of the tanks remains a residue; the grape pulp. This has to be removed from these tanks. To do this, a man has to climb into the tank and start cleaning the tank by hand. All he uses is a prong and for at least half-an-hour, the guy is working like crazy in the tank. So the man is doing hard, physical work in a small place filled with a mixture of alcohol vapors and air. Especially when you have to do this work for the first time it is impossible to stay longer than 10 minutes in the tank. I got curious and wanted to experience what this man was experiencing so I stuck my head in the tank and stayed there for a while. After three minutes, I had to pull my head out of the tank; I felt dizzy already. I could not imagine the man after finishing all those tanks.
Inspired by what I saw, I decided to make wine again next year. I have some nice plum trees in my garden and it will be nice to pick up my old hobby again. Unfortunately, there is no grandmother anymore to test the results of my beautiful work during next year’s Christmas.