Wine, raki and raisins
The vineyards of Minoa Plain are the most beautiful garden of the region and perhaps the richest as they give the inhabitants and people around the world not only grapes, but also the famous Cretan wine, the Raki or tsikoudia and nice and sweet raisins.
After a year of treatment and patience, the vineyards are almost ready to offer their fruit in mid-August. Depending on the grape variety and the altitude of the area, the harvest takes place from the first ten days of August until the beginning of October. Early in the morning friends and relatives collect and carry the grapes. They are pressed then in a wine press which can be motorized or sometimes the whole process is made in the traditional way by stepping on the grapes. A sweet must is produced and when the pressing is finished the must goes into barrels or remains in the wine press for a few hours to get color and tannins.
It is now a matter of time, attention and love for the wine to get its special taste and be fully scented. The famous Cretan varieties are: Liatiko, Vilana, Kotsifali, Mandilaria, Romeiko, Dafni, Rozaki and Plyto, while nowadays international varieties are cultivated in most of the vineyards and as a result we have now Cretan wines with a cosmopolitan character.
The Raki has the must as its raw material, made from grapes, seeds, stems and grape-peels, kwown as “stemfyla” or :strafyla”. This is the mass that remains after the compression of grapes pulp for the production of wine. The raki is a single distillation drink, unlike ouzo and tsipouro. In the distilleries (Rakokazana) every November, the distillation of Raki is the occasion for feasting, dancing and Mantinades (Cretan folk limericks and songs).
In Crete raisins are one of the most important traditional sweeteners. They are considered to be one of the most nutritious plant foods with highly beneficial health ingredients. Raisins are used as an ingredient in many dishes and excellent sweets, while they can be a delicious snack. The raisin production shows man’s ingenuity to maintain a product that nature gives only during summer in an almost dehydrated (dried) form.