We’re involved in every step of the way, from first bud to harvest to bottle. The Frederiksdal Estate is situated on the westernmost tip of the island of Lolland – one of the sunniest and warmest regions in Denmark. This is an ideal climate in which to grow our most precious commodity, the heritage Danish Stevnsbær cherry, which is also called ‘the Grape of the Nordic Countries’. We grow all the cherries ourselves because we can simply find no better ones anywhere else. This means we’re in it every step of the way, from bud to cherry. It also means we can lavish attention on our plantations the whole year round – as well as test new techniques. The transportation time from orchard to winery is extremely short. All this together ensures optimal quality.
Our work to create the best cherries begins the year after harvest. As the cherry trees form flower buds in June, it’s important they receive the right nutrition so they can both develop the cherries for the year’s harvest and buds for the next harvest.
Flowering usually takes place in early May.
Night frost is the trees’ biggest enemy. If there is night frost, we won’t get any cherries. But, in this respect, the Frederiksdal Estate benefits from the short distance to the Langeland Belt, which stabilises the temparture. At times when night frost is likely, though, pollination occurs very slowly. As a rule, our sour cherry trees are self-pollinating, but every summer we also borrow thousands of bees to pollinate the many millions of white flowers.
Harvest is the time of the year when we’re at our busiest. Our talented workers harvest and transport the berries directly from the plantations to the winery. We harvest our trees with a machine that gently shakes the trees, after which the cherries are placed on a piece of sailcloth – which is similar to how olives are harvested in many parts of Europa. The cherries are harvested directly into boxes and immediately covered with a lid so they don’t attract dust. Our challenge is to find exactly the right time to bring in the harvest. We usually harvest one week to a fortnight later than the traditional cherry harvesting period in Denmark. Although this gives us a lower yield, our cherries are riper and have a more concentrated flavour in the final wine. We prefer to gather in the harvest as late in the summer as possible – ideally, just before the cherries start falling off the trees.
That ensures our cherries are picked at their sweetest and that they have the perfect acidity level.
When the cherries arrive in the winery, they’re lovingly pumped into tanks. We then leave the must to wild-ferment for three days before the cherries are pressed. As the wild yeast cells ferment (which is a natural occurrence), the cherries develop an intensely powerful and deep flavour. This is the stage when small miracles happen. The cherries are then pressed. We send the hulls and kernels back to the plantations as a fertiliser, and the semi-fermented must is gently pumped into new tanks where it is left to complete the fermentation process.
Most of our wines never comes into contact with anything other than steel tanks, which bring the wine a neutral and not affecting flavour. We can also produce a wine that is crisp and ‘undisturbed’, paying maximum attention to the fruit from which the wine is made.
That said, we also store a large proportion of our wines in oak barrels. Some are left to age there for 6 months, others for much longer. But, our finest barrels, which we use for the Solera, contain wine from our beginnings in 2006. Barrel ageing is a labour-intensive process and takes longer than usual time, but it’s definitely worth all the effort because oak barrels are the perfect partner for the Stevnsbær cherries. They not only round off the flavour, but add subtle aromas and tannins to the wine.
Lastly, we have a smaller production facility where we place the wine outdoors in small, 25-litre, carboys.
This method is called ‘Rancio’. It means ‘rancid’ and ‘to burn’ in Catalan and refers to the unsophisticated manufacturing method. The wine is left to stand outdoors for a year regardless of the weather conditions: there may be frost, snow, sunshine or a heat wave. But it is precisely these huge temperature fluctuations and all the light during the year that give the wine some unique flavour nuances, with hints of orange zest, fig, nuts and caramel.
Every summer we bottle the wines produced that year. Before being bottled, the wines are racked one last time in order to remove any impurities. We don’t filter our wines as that takes away some of the wine’s depth. That’s why you may find a little sediment in the bottle, but we see consider that a mark of quality. When the wine is ready, we bring in a state-of-the-art bottling unit by lorry from Germany, which does all the operations, from corking to labelling.
And then the wine is ready to leave Frederiksdal.
Our cherry wine is certified to the Global GAP (Good Agriculture Practice) standard. This is an international quality standard that has been developed to ensure traceability, food and occupational safety, and quality.
We at Frederiksdal constantly work to improve the cultivation of our cherry trees and we are guided by the motto that quality should come before quantity. We want to produce wine that takes the environment into account. For that reason, we have mechanical weed control in place on all of our plantations and we space the tree rows wider apart than is usual in order to ensure our trees have more exposure to sunshine and air and, not least, to prevent disease.
Are you more than 18 years old?
You are not of legal age to visit this site!