This article is part of our written series that introduces and explores small businesses that align with the FEC mission of encouraging local food makers and producers. This series hopes to serve as a resource and as inspiration for other industry folk in sharing the stories of local food entrepreneurs in the Brandenburg area.
by Madeline McLean
Taking the train out of Berlin and embarking on an excursion in the land of Uckermark is like taking a huge gasp of fresh air. Even in winter it is mesmerizing not just because of its unique landscape, but because of the calm that passes over you as you step off the train feeling worlds away from the city. Driving on windig roads, we are whisked trough snow-blanketed vistas by our enthusiastic tourguide Michael Wickert from Glut & Späne who os aushing about Gutshof Kratzes apple wines and juices. I let myself be taken for the adventure with delight knowing I’m in great hands.
Like a lighthouse in the distance of a rolling sea, Gutshof Kraatz exists like a beautiful monument dominating an otherwise bleak terrain. We arrive at the production warehouse, which is a vast, Germanic red brick building and not like any warehouse I’ve ever seen: it’s gorgeous. Within the first few minutes of meeting Florian Profitlich (one of the two owner–founders, the other being his wife Edda), I am spellbound not only by Florian’s concept, but by his unbridled passion for his craft.
Florian and Edda’s love for Uckermark began during their time living and working in Berlin during the mid-nineties and visiting Uckermark during weekends. In 2001 they purchased their weekend home – a “hideout” they call it. An area prolifically dotted with fruit trees, Florian and Edda would notice that every autumn these fruits were falling to the ground only to be wasted. Inspired by this unnoticed abundance of fruits they first had the idea of setting up a distillery, though fate would have other plans for them. When they were ready to purchase equipment, they could only find equipment for a small cider production. They began with apple, pear and quince juices and then explored wines and sparkling wines made with these same fruits. Now entering their sixth year of production, Florian and Edda are not looking back at their former lives in the city.
If it’s not the unparalleled quality of their products that attract one to Gutshof Kraatz, it is definitely then the beautiful café space that Florian and Edda have created that will keep you there. To act as a place to present and sell their products in the beginning, they designed and built a restaurant-pub off of their production warehouse. Jams, jellies, chutney, vinegars, schnapps, brandies, juices wines and seccos line the walls in this charming farm shop-cum-café, decorated with handmade wood chairs, booths and tables. Now the full-fledged Stube acts as a community gathering place where they hold music and cooking events, special dinners and pop-ups. Even in January I find myself wanting to post up and drink apple wine all afternoon and never leave this cocoon of a space.
By now we are all pretty aware of the natural wine trend bubbling up in Berlin and other capitals around the globe. There is certainly the old guard of wine makers who still hold staunchly to the traditional ways of winemaking, priding themselves in sticking to the ways of their forbearers. However there is a new wave of winemaking blessing the wine world with methods that don’t necessarily stray from traditional methods but take creative liberties and test the boundaries of the palette. It is thanks to this trend, and the people in wine shops, bars and restaurants passionately championing these natural wines to the public, that palettes everywhere are likening to this movement.
This is where Florian comes into the picture; Gutshof Kraatz’s apple wines are a revelation! I think to myself “sure, I guess you can make wine out of a lot of things” but the real question is, will it taste good? With very low ABV (alcohol by volume), depending on the label, his apple wines range between 6.5–8% (whereas typically white wines made from grapes range from 11–13% ABV). This characteristic makes the apple wines elegantly smooth. What is also noteworthy is the fact that each wine is made from a single apple varietal, many if not all of the varietals hyper-specific to that area. Their wines range from dry to full-bodied, just like in the case of grape wine, though these wines should rather exist in their own category of characterization. In our tasting with Florian I was astounded at how interesting and deep his wines are as ideas of dishes with which to pair them swirled in my head; I could definitely see these wines on the menus of some of Berlin’s top natural wine-centric restaurants and bars. Additionally, Florian and Edda also make beautiful apple, pear and quince sparkling wines in the method of Prosecco. And as far as the juices go, I truly haven’t tasted such pure juices in my life. I love wine but I have to say, I find myself craving their juices daily!
They have only been bottling their wines since 2011 – a short time in wine makers time – so naturally I ask if their wines are aging well. Florian is happy to say that they are in fact and he grins widely. It is with this evident joy that I ask him what he loves best with his work. He replies that it’s the detective work of identifying and the experimenting in what succeeds in making a truly great product. It is this devotion in his craft that makes me look forward to his next six years of creation.
Information about Gutshof Kraatz’s restaurant hours, food programs and events can be found on their website or their Facebook page. You can purchase wines and other products at the restaurant shop (hours permitting) or by contacting Florian and Edda directly through the website.
Join us for the next FEC Tuesday on February 21st when Florian will present his great products and give a degustation!