Dating back to the times of Byzantium and borne out of extreme poverty, when nothing could be wasted, tsipouro (a.k.a. raki / tsikoudia / grappa / sourna) is produced in late autumn. After the grapes have been pressed and the vines pruned, the residue - the grape skins, seeds and stems and other ‘waste’ - are left to ferment in large vats before they are transferred to a large copper cauldron atop a stone furnace.
|Depending on the area and the type of grapes grown there, various aromatic herbs, berries, roots or flowers may be added and over many hours it is distilled to make tsipouro, a clear spirit between 45-50 degrees proof and originally produced for private consumption and as a reward for those who helped in the communal grape harvest.|
tsipouro is produced commercially, production remains mostly
small-scale. Non-commercial production is exempt from alcohol taxes and
is closely monitored by Customs and Excise who issue vine-growers with
special 48-hour licences, the number of licences issued to each
vineyard depends upon the acreage and quantity of grapes grown.
Due to this short production period, and as the amount produced from the grape waste is relatively small, tsipouro production remains largely traditional and much of the equipment used dates back many generations.
Tsipouro is produced in several places on Kefalonia and is available inexpensively, in 1.5 litre plastic water bottles, from e.g. Yiorgos the greengrocer in Poros
( ...while stocks last).