Vermouth and fresh milk

Community Highlights Europe Vermouth and fresh milk

After our best sleep in weeks, Hannes took us back to the terraced vineyard, to finish tying up the individually-staked (more traditional) vines. Working beside an enormous quince tree, with wild clematis rambling over a stone wall, wild roses coming up everywhere and a million fancy snails sneaking around, we felt very much surrounded by the nature. The vines on this terrace were tough: they were almost rubbery, even as baby leaves, which is just as well because they are fairly exposed on the hillside.

Hannes told us a story of how one time, a pedestrian traffic light was broken, so a German man just stood at the roadside for two hours, because it wasn’t his turn to cross. In comparison, Greeks would take a prolonged red light personally - they would get angry at it and quite quickly rebel against it. As much as this comparison was probably an exaggeration, it is a funny example of how different the couples’ backgrounds are.

After finishing tying up vines, we were served a gorgeous lunch of halved fennel hearts, cooked down in a creamy tomato soup-type sauce, which was glorious. Of course, all meals come with a selection of cheeses and wine to try, and the background noise of two tiny kids speaking emphatically in Greek. After lunch, it was raining again, so we stacked some more wine bottles, and were then shown how to make vermouth. They were originally just making the vermouth for fun, but so many friends were requesting it that they now make some more each week (to allow the herbs to grow back) so it can eventually be bottled. We picked wormwood, lemon balm, lemon verbena, sage and added dried fennel and bay leaves to the mix of red wine, sugar, grappa and halved lemons, in a huge bottle. It smelled amazing.


With the rain petering out, we headed to a different vineyard plot (they have little sections of vineyard here and there across a whole hillside of vines) to remove any shoots from the lower stems. We saw several birds of prey, some very wriggly lizards, an ants nest, bumblebees and more jazzy snails, as well as the grass between rows growing some red clover, a sanguisorba-type thing, some surprise baby oaks, cute milk thistles and whatever else wanted to join the party. Being a Saturday, various other families were up tending to their own plots. I imagine this routine has been going on here for some time.


In the 70s, some of the area was modernised - much of the vineyards and terraces were removed: they ploughed up the soil to create flat slopes, and planted new varieties of grapes. The loss of terracing enabled tractors to access the rows, but it meant that where water was previously trapped in the flat portions of the terrace, it now ran straight down the hill and away from the farmland. Hannes seemed to regret this choice, but was grateful that they at least still had many of those 50 year old plants today.


After an afternoon rest, Hannes and their toddler daughter took us to a local dairy to pick up some milk. The cows looked to be Simmental, and they were out in a rotational grazing system of tapes during the day, and then brought in for milking and lockup overnight. Their calves were very friendly, and the barn had clearly been functioning in this gorgeous routine for a long time. And when I say ‘pick up some milk’ I mean, it came straight from a milk vending machine outside the dairy, that was filled each day. The customer must BYO bottle or canister, and each litre was purchased with the press of a button. Jess had never tasted fresh milk before and was not disappointed.


The buildings at this farm were representative of the architecture across the area. It was lovely to realise that these villages are not preserved for tourism, but have been continuously functioning and lived in since their construction who-knows-how-long ago.

We had another lovely dinner with cumulative food miles of about 0.5, before heading home to try to watch the final of the Champions league to understand this highlight of the European year. Jess couldn’t find a relevant channel, so she has immediately fallen asleep.

Tomorrow morning, we are going to do a walk through some local villages and forests, to get a better feel for the area, before more shoot removal in the afternoon. Happy Sunday to you all.

This featured blog entry was written by OaksGoWalking from the blog Hattie and Jess Go Walking.
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By OaksGoWalking

Posted Sat, Jun 01, 2024 | Germany | Comments