Natural Wine – The Cellar Work

Our work in the cellar.       Third Part        Udo Hirsch

The grapes have just arrived

For the third part of my presentation about how to make a Natural Wine I would like to repeat that „ a high biodiversity in the vineyard is the best precondition for a Natural Wine and the successful work in the wine cellar“. In addition, this biodiversity saves a lot of work, trouble and costs, and it gives certainty to clients that they get what they wish to get.

Besides, our project aims at working with little investment and simple work processes.

We have 32 Küps of different sizes with different capacities between 70 – 2000 liter and of different ages. In Turkey you can still find wine Küps all over the country with antique dealers . They are not very expensive.

Our wine cellar for white wine

Our Küps for red wine are in a half open room outside, the küps for white wine in a vaulted cellar below our house.

grape mill with destemming part

We work with a grape mill and with a destemming part. It is placed on top of a pump. From here the crashed grapes are directly pumped into Küps.

From the mill directly to t Küp

We fill the Küps three quarters full with mash . Fermentation of the red grapes starts mostly during the next day.

The white grapes normally begin to ferment one day later. Since we do not use yeast from a laboratory, we leave it to the grapes to use their own yeast. This kind of yeast „knows“ best how to work with its own grapes, anyway.


pushing the grape skinns doswn

During fermentation, when sugar is turned into alcohol, the development of carbon dioxide pushes the grape skins upward to form a tight mash hat. This hat must be pushed down regulary in order to make the extraction of colour, tannins and aroma possible.

The stems have dried 2 days in the sun

On the second and third day I taste the mash and add some of the stems again into the küp, to balance the sugar with some more tannine and aromas

powerfull fermentation

During the following 4-6 days the fermentation is very powerful. Especially the mash of the grapes fermenting outside must be pushed down and stirred every 3 hours, day and night.

forgotten to push the skins every 2 hrs. down

If you oversleep, the red wine in  our 2000 ltr Küp will behave like a volcano

this Küps with a wide open mouth is for the ferm entation of our rare grapes.

For our very rare grape varieties we use Küps with a capacity of about 200 ltr. and with a wide opening. Here the dioxyd can escape very easily and the mash hat can also be pushed down easily to mix with the juice.

The küps stay open during the whole time of fermentation.

The fermentation of our red wine takes about 8-12 days, with the white wine in the cellar it takes about 14-20 days. During this time all the sugar is transformed into alcohol. The result is a dry wine.

The Küp is covered with a glas plate and closed with a syphon

We now fill the Küps up to the brim and close them with a glassplate and a siphon. Now the few still rising gases can escape through the siphon, but CO² cannot enter the küp any longer. After one month we replace the siphon with a stopper.

In the following time the grape skins, the stems and the pits slowly start to sink down. This procedure takes about one month. Only from two of our grapes do the pits stay on the surface. During this time the wines clear up and we do not need to filter them.

We then patiently wait for another six months without any further interference. During this time the grape juice transforms itself into wine.

The Dionysos Festival

In April we invite our wine friends to celebrate with us our yearly Dionysos festival. For the first time we open all our küps and taste the new wine. Together we decide what we should do next. Do we separate the wine from its yeast, from the grape skins, from pits and stems? Do we already fill some wines in bottles? Which wine should we transfer into another küp for aging in our wine cave? Or, do we just close some küps again and wait for another couple of months?

In this cave some of our wines are aging and I come here for dreaming

Do not forget, the next Dionysos Festival is in April

Udo Hirsch – Gelveri-Manufactur

How to make Natural Wine

Udo Hirsch, Second Part , Vineyards, October 2020

In this second part I will show some photographs from our work in the vineyards. I also will tell about our method for producing Natural Wine.

As a reminder. Our plan is to make Natural Wine with only little investment, with a simple workprocess and without need for high level industrial and chemical knowledge. We are producing 5000 – 6000 bottles of wine each year, sufficient to provide a normal income for a family of 6 person. And very important, we try to save a number of rare Anatolian grapes which are on the edge of extinction

Small private grape gardens north of mount Hasan Dag
some of our rare grapes

On the nortwestern and northern side of Hasan Dag are the grape gardens of some villagers. Nearly every familiy owns between 3 and 8 donüm ( 1 dönüm = o,1 ha). Here I found a number of up to 8 different grapes per garden, mostly Bulut, Dimrit, Kayseri Karasi, Sehir Alasi, Inek Memesi, Cavus Üzüm, Keten Gömlek and less common Kizil Üzüm, Koku Üzüm, Tas Üzüm and It Üzüm. Many of those grapes are used for to produce pekmez or for rasin, some are sold on the local market as table grapes, some others are used for making wine and raki.

Because we are interested in saving rare grapes, we started to plant them in our grape garden. According to regional traditions vines are planted in a bush shape (Gobelet) with a distance of at least 1,5 meter

Looking for good cuttings from rare grapes.
Cuttings from Hasan Dede.

Our vine cuttings should be at least 60 cm long for to plant them deep into the dry tuff soiI. It is important that the cuttings have a little piece of the 2nd years wood. This helps the vine cuttings to produce roots easy and quick.

Our „grape usta“ with a prefered vine cutting

Only the half of the deep planting hole will be filled with volcanic soil. The upper part will stay open for some weeks. Here we can water the young vines during July and August and at the same time prevent the vines forming roots in this upper part.

„Göz acmak“ translated „open the eye“ is a Cappadocian tradition.

The traditional göz acmak

This work starts at the end of February, beginning of March. We take the soil directly around the vine 20 – 30 cm deep away. During the wet winter month roots which have grown around the upper part of the vine should now dry out. This is also the time for pruning the vines.

The upper roots should dry out.

After 6 weeks the roots become dry and the tuff soil is again piled up around the vine. With this laborious handwork the vine is forced to go deeper with its roots in order to find enough water.


But this work has also other advantages. It deprives the livelihood of Phylloxera, the most dangerous insect for grape vine. This pest feeds mainly on roots which grow directly under the surface of the soil. Our grape vines are free of Phylloxera and do not grow on American rootstock but on their own rootstock.

Vines directed to the south are protected against the very hot temperature.

Two of our grapes are resistent against mildew. Some of our other grapes may show some signs of mildew after a longer rainfall of several days. But only twice within 10 years we protected our grapes with an extract from the horsetail plant. The climate and soil is so dry, that this illness does not spread. Some other owners in our neighborhood are using somtimes sulfit as a prophylactic treatment.

High biodiversity in our young grape plantation…….the best protection against pests.
Our grapes find their water from the volcanic alluvial fan.

In my first presentation I explained already why, despite of 5-6 month without rain, we do not need to water our grapes (exceptions are young plantations). Most of the grape yards are on places were water from the volcano flows underground. Here we have reactivated two old unused grape gardens and have started to replant them.

Over the summer month our „Üzüm Usta“ (grape master) looks time by time for the grapes. He may break out some leaves if they grow too dense, mainly as a method of defence against meldew.

Every year we have to start harvesting earlier.

This year we started with the harvest already in the first week of September. 10 years ago we started in the middle of October !

Different grapes mature at different times. I often measure the sugar contend of grapes with an refractometer, but I decide about the time of harvesting with the help of my taste.

I enjoy this part of my work very much

Sometimes I have a problem with it. In years with long and strong sunshine the northern site of the grape bunch is still unripe when the southern side is already becoming dry and brownish. By than to decide for the harvest, judging with my taste is difficult.

We harvest this grape only after it has lost all its leafs.

We pick the grapes by hand and transporting them in 20 kg plastic boxes to our wine cellar.

About the following processing of our grapes I will tell you in my next contribution.

A part of our new plantation


Our vine yards are on the flanks of the volcano Hadan Dag in 1500 meter altitude. During summertime the temperature rises between 30 and 40 °C and they fall in winter down to minus 20 C°

The very loose tuff soil is rich in minerals. Our vines are Phylloxera free and grow on their own rootstock. Mildew appears rarely and because of the long dry period only for a few days.

The biological diversity is quite high, but the smal wild plants have only a short growing and flowering period. So keep in mind, the higher the diversity the less you need to think about pests and diseases.

Regular visitors

13. April 2019   IV Dionysos Symposium   Gelveri – Manufactur

Sabiha Apaydin und Hacer Özkaya degustieren die drei besten Weine von den autochthonen Trauben   Tas Üzüm, Keten Gömlek und It Üzüm.

Zum Dionysos Symposium 2019 wurden alle Weine von 2017 und 2018 die noch in den Küps lagern degustiert und diskutiert.

  1. Dezember 2018   „Karakterre“ Weinmesse in Wien

Hier sieht man gut welche Weine auf dieser besonderen Messe präsentiert wurden

Entsprechend war die Begeisterung groß

Hacer freut sich über den Zuspruch den wir für unsere Naturweine erhalten.

Oktober 2018    Zum Reifen unserer Weine

In einer unserer Höhlen unter dem Haus haben wir für besondere  Weine einen kühlen Platz zum Reifen eingerichtet.

„How to make Natural Wine“ weiterlesen