We were driving with Brita from Kitzingen in the direction of Geiselwind when we decided to stop for lunch in one of the restaurants along the way due to our feeling of hunger.
A little away from the village of Geiselwind we were driving the KT 15 in the direction of Abtswind when we noticed a game reserve on the side of the road and a country inn slightly offset behind it. We decided to stop for lunch.
A wine press that catches the eye
Already at the entrance we noticed that it was not just a normal country inn, but also a winery with its own vineyards surrounding the inn. Even the entrance situation was interesting in terms of design, because in addition to all sorts of agricultural equipment, an ancient wine press that was housed in an open part of the building right next to the inn terraces immediately caught our eye. Our interest was aroused immediately, because the year 1695 alone, which we discovered on the crossbeam of the wine press, indicated the stately age of the pressing device. Made entirely of solid oak, the wine press was in surprisingly good condition.
Calcatorium - kicking
The Greeks and Romans were already familiar with the pressing of fruit to obtain juices, and wine production was also widespread. While in Roman times wines were pressed by the body's own human weight, later in the Middle Ages machines or, better, physically effective auxiliary devices were also used. The process of pressing wine or other fruit is called pressing, originally derived from the Latin word calcatorium, which means "to tread on with one's feet". Various tools were found early on to increase the pressing pressure through mechanical lever forces, through gears or other drive processes that were supposed to support human or animal power.
Depending on the region, different terms are used for the wine press, so in some places one hears the terms Torkel or Torggel, which were derived from the Middle Latin words torcula or torculum. For centuries, the mash, as the fruit pressed with foot force is called, was pounded in large vats with a drain. The Romans already used wooden lever presses which were called wine presses or tree presses.
The size of the wine press determines the pressing pressure
These tree presses were later also adopted by the farmers north of the Alps, which alone refers to the Roman origin because of the Latin names for the individual parts. From drawings and illustrations in medieval manuscripts one can see that the wine press trees have hardly changed up to the 20th century. With the appropriate size of the wine presses, it was possible to achieve pressing pressures that are achieved today with modern machines.
For the use of the wine press, several wine press workers were always necessary, who first opened the wine press tree in order to lower the heavy stone of the pressure weight to the ground. The grapes were then placed on the pressing table and covered with wooden constructs to evenly distribute the pressing pressure. As a rule, as soon as the grapes were poured in, the first juice ran off the pressing table, which was referred to as pre-letting and which later delivered the best wine quality. When the lease expired, the wine press workers turned the stone at the end of the wine press tree upwards by moving the thread of the spindle upwards. Now the stone hung freely in the air and pushed down the winepress tree, which acted as a lever. When the juice ran out again, the process was repeated with fresh grapes.
Pomace used as a home drink
The leftover grapes on the press table are called pomace. In order to remove it from the pressing table, axes were usually used to cut up the pomace. The pomace was often piled up again and pressed again to increase the amount of juice. Sometimes water was then poured over the pomace and pressed again. This then very watery grape juice was also fermented into wine, but mostly used as a house drink.
In many medieval towns you will find so-called wine press houses, which were usually the largest historical buildings in a place in which the wine press or the wine presses were set up and used to protect them from the weather. Often larger than town halls or town houses, there was a certain system of order decreed by the authorities, which the people involved in pressing had to strictly adhere to. The high lords of the authorities then received part of the pressed juice in return for maintaining the wine press.
Metzingen Wine Museum
A large group of these wine press houses still stands in the Metzingen Wine Museum, although they are used differently today. An almost completely preserved wine press tree from 1655 can also be found here. Today, however, this old method is only used in one wine press in Neuhausen.
The so-called screw presses, which are considered to be the first mechanical presses, required much less space. Mostly made of wood, you can still find an ancient spindle press in dignified places. Later, for reasons of durability, metallic materials were also often used.
In any case, we were thrilled to find this technical masterpiece of timber construction here. And since the food also tasted wonderful, the stopover in Abtswind could be described as a complete success. There was homemade jelly and "Schäuferle", plus dumplings with brown sauce. Simply delicious.
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