Master's story

Olavi Pihlapuu, winemaker of Räpina Creative House

Olav Pihlapuu

Winemaker of Räpina Creative House

The stable shed, built in the 19th century for Räpina manor, was acquired by Räpina municipality in 2012 and began to live a completely different and variegated life. The Räpina Creative House is born of the idea that our people deserve a place to realize and revive their inner creator-animal.

It is a good place for experiencing new activities, but not only because of the historic building – our people and the immense joy of self-making make visiting a creative house an extraordinary and memorable experience for both local and distant groups. This energy is not easy to describe, to understand it you just have to experience it for yourself.

Räpina Creative House has a brewery with excise rights, where our craft-beers and wines are made. I have been working here since this house was opened. Berry wines have been one of the autumn ventures, when many different types of fruit and berries ripen in Lake Peipus area, which are well suited for bottling. We have made various berry wines: rhubarb, lingonberry, apple, blackcurrant, chokeberry, raspberry, cherry, etc. We also make wine from local grapes, which is not inferior to wine from wine countries.

We also make craft beer in the brewery. Räpnik is a beer that starts in a grinder and is ready after a month by bottling and hand-labeling one batch and writing the dates by hand with the help of the hostess of the house. We do not offer beer all over Estonia, it is possible to get it only from the vicinity of Räpina. So, for beer tasting, you have to come and explore on the spot, and then you can find out in more detail how the real handicraft summer booze is made.

Räpina Creative House has hobby groups for toddlers, schoolchildren and adults, which take place every week, and there are also one-time hobby groups, such as in the spring, when children and their parents can build bird nest boxes or come and try their hand at cooking. We also have a room for looms, where everyone can make their own rug, scarf or sauna towel.

Olavi Pihlapuu, winemaker of Räpina Creative House

How do I do that?

When starting winemaking, you need to consider what kind of berry year it is. Each berry behaves differently and every year the berries of the same variety come a little different.

If it’s still a very good rowan year, you should think of rowan wine. After we pick beautiful berries, we squeeze the juice from them. Of course, some berries, such as rowan and atch, are first frozen. As this process brings out the natural sugars and the wine becomes sweeter. After pressing, we put the juice in a fermentation vessel and add wine yeast, with the help of which the fermentation process begins. The fermentation process takes four to eight weeks, depending on the amount of sugar and the fermentation temperature. Once this process has been completed and the wine has reached its strength, the fermentation must be stopped, with the addition of stops, and then clarified. When all is done, all you have to do is post-season, bottle it and age it.

Since winemaking is a big science, we also learn something new every year.