Some of you may already know by now that I am moving to Frankfurt for work soon. But most of you will learn about this only by reading this blog post. But before I make a move to the capital of Apfelwein, I wanted to pay Gutshof Kraatz a visit, one of my favourite producers of apple wine that is easier to reach from Berlin than Frankfurt am Main.
Unlike most German producers or Apfelwein, Gutshof Kraatz is not based in the South of Germany. Gutshof Kraatz is located approx. 140km north from Berlin, in the Uckermark region of Brandenburg. Florian Profitlich, the owner and cider maker at Apfelwein kept inviting me to visit the premises every time we spoke on the phone or met up at CiderWorld in Frankfurt. But somehow only now an opportunity occurred to head north and get a tour behind the scenes of the production of apple wine at Gutshof Kraatz.
The history of Gutshof Kraatz is very straight forward. Florian together with his wife Edda used to live and work in Berlin. One day Florian and Edda decided to become weekend getaway homeowners and purchased a summer house located outside of Berlin, in Kraatz. Their gateway in Kraatz came with a small orchard with old apple and perry trees. In Autumn, those trees bore lots of fruits that simply fell on the ground. But how many apple pies can one eat and how many jars of apple jam can one make? Florian started looking for alternative solutions. He quickly discovered that there are more abandoned apple and pear trees in the area. And, that nobody cares about these trees.
Just a little clarification. Northern Germany doesn’t have a wine or fruit wine tradition. More like a long beer and vodka- tradition due to the fact that ingredients such as wheat or rye required for the production of these beverages grow well here. And, Uckermark has a too cold climate to cultivate winegrapes. And, apple wine? There is simply no tradition of making Apfelwein here.
Back to Florian. Florian began to think about what to do with the remaining fruit. And, came up with an idea of making apple wine. After solid research, he finally started experimenting with Apfelwein. Since his apple wine turned out really well and the fact that he and Edda started spending more and more time in the summer house than in Berlin, the decision was made to move to the Uckermark and begin a completely new life chapter. This is how Florian an Edda found a real getaway from Berlin in the Uckermark.
Honestly, I can’t blame Florian and Edda for swapping Berlin for Uckermark. Gutshof Kraatz is an estate consisting of a few houses and a large old barn surrounded by fields full of wheat and corn and a small apple and pear orchard. In addition, to promote the sales of his products, Florian and Edda set up a farm shop, holiday homes and a restaurant serving local products run by Edda. Once you arrive at Kraatz, you immediately feel the good vibes of this place and that time slows down here. Not only the building has been completely renovated but also the right modern farmhouse interior design of the restaurant and farm shop surrounded by a lovely local area make you feel most welcomed and relaxed. Perfect conditions to enjoy Florian’s Apfelwein.
Florian makes his Apfelwein in a huge barn dating back 1870ties located on the back of the restaurant. He does everything from scratch. Apples, pears or quinces are mostly donated by people who don’t know what to do with the fruit. Also, Florian marked a few locations of wild apple trees or old apple varieties growing at the side of the road or close to the woods not far from Kraatz. Each apple variety and fruit is pressed separately in the barn and then moved to either steel or plastic Speidel tanks. Florian works with selected wine strains as he wasn’t fond of his Apfelwein experiments made with wild yeasts. Also, he prefers to make single-varietal apple wines as in his opinion a blend might taste right at the moment of blending but a few months later it may taste completely different. Cause cider or apple wine is a living product. So instead he has a very broad product range of different single-varietals apple wines such as Kaiser Wilhelm, Bohnapfel, Adams Parmäne or Boskoop. As per Florian, this huge product selection is really confusing for the guests sometimes as they often are overwhelmed and don’t know what to pick as the range features a number of apple wines or apple sparkling wines. Annually, Florian makes approx. 22.000 litres so it is rather a small operation. And, this year’s harvest will be much smaller than the 2018 crop. As you listen to Florian as he talks about his experiments, you do get his passion for apple wine. He has plenty of ideas, which he wants to try out such as ageing of apple wine in French oak barrels. He clearly is a passionate cider lover and cider maker. And, a great partner to talk about apple and fruit wine.
Florian let me try a few of his apple wines and a quince wine on the spot. And, I adored them all. Also, he gave me a few samples of his products so you may expect a few reviews on his products coming very soon, including his recently released cider the Guttshof Kraatz Schwarze Katze. So stay tuned!
Overall, within less than two hours drive north of Berlin, you not only get to taste great apple wine and other fruit wines made by Florian but also enjoy rural areas, delicious food and interesting discussions about cider and apple wine with Florian. I truly regret I haven’t visited earlier as I would have been a more frequent guest at Gutshof Kraatz. If you like apple wine and you are in the area, you have to visit Gutshof Kraatz and explore everything that it has to offer.