Braving Israel’s Desert to Make Wine
March 30, 2012
Growing grapes in the Negev desert, an area that gets less than four inches of rainfall of year, is not for the faint of heart.
However, it is precisely the harsh conditions that when handled correctly have the potential to produce really great wines.
That’s what Negev winemaker Daniel Kish is counting on as he produces a variety of red wines at his Derech Eretz winery.
“Grapes have sort of a complex interaction with drought,” says Dr. Aaron Fait of BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research.
“But if you manage to regulate the drought …then you really can use the drought response of the vine to produce a better wine.”
Kish makes wine from a blend of six different grape types, from merlot to syrah, that he grows on his own in his Negev vineyards.
Dr. Fait is helping him determine the perfect quality and quantity of water needed for each grape.
Despite drought and other effects of climate change, Kish also aspires to produce white wine in the desert. This presents Kish with another challenge because grapes for white wine tend to grow best in cooler climates.