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Cherry cultivation has a long tradition in sunny Baden. Aromatic mountain cherries mature for the famous Black Forest spirits between forest and vines.
Harvesting cherries meant earlier: countless times climb up the long wooden ladder and reach the safe ground again with the basket in one hand. Even the small fir cherries were painstakingly picked by hand. During the harvest weeks between mid-June and the end of July, all relatives had to help. In the meantime, alongside industrious helpers, machines are also being used for harvesting at Heinrich Männle's family business. The season is short and the Winzerhof in the idyllic wine village of Durbach has more than 500 cherry trees, so everything has to go fast.
Harvesting at the higher, steep meadows is a challenge. The dual tires of the agile vineyard tug and a granite block as a counterweight to the engine provide stability on the slope.On the flat or only slightly hilly orchards on the edge of the Black Forest, a stem shaker sets the entire tree in motion. In the high altitudes, where the cherries grow for the real Black Forest mountain cherries, the use of large machines is not possible. The steep Kirschenäcker are only passable with the non-tilting vineyard tug. Branch wreath for branch wreath is harvested with a rope shaker.
"Nomol!", Calls Andreas Basler, viticulture technician and longtime employee on the farm. The Baden "again" applies to Männles son in law on the tug. He presses the shaker again. The branch trembles for two seconds, then the fruits patter like black drops on the tarpaulin underneath.
With a connoisseur's view Heinrich Männle checks the quality of the cherries.The trees on the cherry trees of the winery are over 40 years old. At that time, Heinrich Männle planted at least two varieties on each surface, which ensures fertilization. And because they flower at different times, there's less risk that the entire harvest will fall victim to frequent late frosts. 'Dollenseppler' and 'Schwarze Ritter', two regional varieties from the 1960s, are particularly suitable for the rainy zone between the Black Forest and the Rhine plain, 'Benjaminler' has proven itself in the higher altitudes. After shaking, the cherries must be quickly sorted, cleaned and shoveled into the fermentation tanks, so the large mash tanks are right next to the meadow.
The ten year-ripened mountain cherries from the Männle Winery are considered by gastro critics as one of the best winemakers' firesThe actual fermentation takes place in the yard in a room at 15 to 20 degrees. Underneath stops the process, at higher temperatures it runs too stormy, alcohol and aromas are lost. Patience and sensitivity are also required when firing twice, the aromas need time to break away from the fermented fruit mass. Afterwards, the spirits have to rest for at least two years. To allow the almond-like fragrance to unfold, the fine distillates are served in a bulbous stemmed glass. When cooking and baking you should also resort to high quality distillates. "From a weak fire," says the expert, "after heating there is not much left!" A generous shot of good kirsch is also the secret of the juicy cherry patty. And it is at least as popular throughout Baden as the famous Black Forest cake.