“Eating is inescapably an agricultural act. How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.”
This is the age of industrial denaturation of foodstuffs.
We wanted to eat clean. So we moved to Bohemian Highlands. To Stronghold Sudkův Důl Farm. To grow, raise, forage, ferment. To build our pocket of the contemporary pre-industrial. With plenty of clean, nutritious, healthy foods. And beverages. For our family and friends on their frequent visits.
We planted trees and shrubs, established vegetable beds, raised bees, sheep, geese, ducks, chickens, carp and trout.
We keep two dozen hens. Spacious chicken coop and a huge run. 3000 m². Freedom to scratch, peck and dust bathe. And to hide their eggs :) Plenty of plants, bugs and worms. Suitable parts of our kitchen waste. Enough sunlight and cover. No artificial light during long winter nights. No cutting peckers. A healthy, happy hen life. The most delicious eggs, friends claim.
We raise carp. A pike gang takes care of fish overpopulation. Grass carp deal with aquatic plants overgrowth. Balance established. Neither grains, nor other unnatural nonsense fed. “C'mon, that's not carp!” say those who have only tasted the industrial fatties. Frog gigs as a bonus.
We planted a cider apple orchard. 2,5 hectares. The orchard floor and soil bustling with life. No spraying, no vole poisons. Just neighbour’s horse manure and our apple pomace compost. Foxes take care of voles.
Years will pass before the first real harvest. Selected rootstocks slowly grow large, vigorous trees, a healthy cider apple orchard - in 50 years hopefully as magnificent as the old orchards that we are privileged to harvest now. Endlessly grateful to all, who planted them heritage apples 60, 70, 80 years ago.
We make cider. The cider actually makes itself. UTOPIA is born in natural succession of countless indigenous yeasts and bacteria. It is them, who, behind cask staves, slowly turn the apple juice into hard cider. They, who do the magic of creating layers of aromas and tastes. Masters of their art.
We will probably never fully understand the amazingly complex biology of everything happening from soil to plate or glass. But we feel that the more we patiently observe, the more sensitively, the more cautiously and in rhythm with the natural course of things we work, the more we respect the nature of hens, carps, apples, yeasts and bacteria, the tastier, more aromatic, more complex, more nutritious and healthier rewards we harvest.
And so, in the age of industrial denaturation of foodstuffs, the foods and beverages emerge here utopically.
As for ciders: old orchards without spraying・spontaneous fermentation by igenous cultures・12 months sur-lie in 225l neutral oak casks・no filtration, fining, pasteurisation, force carbonation・no added sulphites, acids, tannins, enzymes, aromas・no preservatives, sterilants or colorants.
Our fine drinking vinegars with no added sulfites are spontaneously fermented by local cultures in 225-liter cider oak casks for 12 months. Over the following 5+ months, the original slow orleans fermentation method in vinegar oak casks produces unusually delicate and aromatic fine vinegars suitable for drinking. (Conventional vinegars take only a few days to produce.) Not pasteurized, no sulphites added, only coarsely filtered. Subsequent eventual maceration of blackcurrants, wild cherries, fresh thyme, jalapeño peppers, elderberries or other fruits, flowers or leafs usually foraged in our valley, grown in our garden or sourced from organic farmers, forms additional fantastic layers of flavors and aromas in limited batches of our macerated vinegars for drinking. Our vinegars are not pasteurised, no sulphites added, only roughly filtered.
We work with Czech heritage apple varieties from orchards as old as 80 years. We experiment with new varieties and have planted an orchard combining Czech heritage varieties, promising local bittersweet seedlings and English cider varieties.
Our casks do fine without treatments with sulphites. That’s because we fill them with new season’s juice as early as one day after bottling the cask’s previous vintage. Our casks and most of the cidery equipment get sanitized with steam. Not with chemicals. We purchase clean electricity from renewable resources.
After bottling, UTOPIA further matures in bottles right next to its cradles - 225 l neutral French oak casks - at fort Sudkův Důl in Josafat Valley near Tábor, Czech Republic.
Eva and Ivo Laurin, Sudkův Důl