Jerusalem Post Wine Talk
|Roni Saslove (Wine Educator & Consultant ) gives us an insight into the history and culture of winemaking in Israel.
We live in a very exciting time for winemaking culture in Israel. We live in a time of creativity and growth. Today there are about 350 wineries and new ones appear all the time. Vineyards are being planted everywhere from the Hermon mountain in the north, down to the desert in the south. In fact, Israel has the southernmost vineyard in the northern hemisphere. Israel is in a very unique location. It is part of what is referred to as the fertile crescent, between Africa, Asia and Europe. It is very fertile and very diverse with a lot of different micro-climates. We have high mountains with basalt stone, low-hills with limestone, a coastal region with chalk and sandstone and deserts with clay.
Our seasons are a grape growers heaven. Winter is wet and cold enough for the vines to get into a deep sleep. Spring is gradual and warm and the rains get scarce. Summer is sunny, hot and dry. In Fall it starts cooling down and the grapes are ready for harvest. Most growing regions are similar in the fact that during summer and fall the days are warm and sunny but the night time is pretty cool and comfortable. The dry weeks before harvest means the grapes will be concentrated in flavour. There is archaeological evidence of winemaking in Israel from over 5000 years ago. These days some wineries like Jezreel, Feldstein, Recanati and Cremisan are looking into making wine from ancient-indigenous grape varieties like Dabuki, Marawi and Jandali. 20 years ago mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz were grown, today there are over 40 different grape varieties used for wine. There is serious research going in that field, playing with varieties and clones. We even have our own local hybrid the Argaman wine grape which is a clone of the French Carignan and the Portuguese Souzao.