Harsh Climate, Good Wine
May 13, 2016
The Economist — Daniel Kish has undertaken a daunting task: making wine in Israel’s Negev desert.
A region’s climate determines its terroir — the environmental elements that affect the quality of grapes, such as rainfall, temperature and soil conditions. Most grapes grow between temperatures of 12°C and 22°C, making the punishing Negev heat a hurdle on the road to making decent wine.
Yet Daniel Kish manages to make quality wine with a pioneering spirit and a little help from BGU research.
Prof. Aaron Fait, of BGU’s French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands, sees that Israel’s desert can serve as a laboratory for growing grape vines in warmer conditions.
Prof. Fait is using nets of different densities and colors to protect growing grape clusters. The temperature, weight, size, and chemical composition of the grapes are monitored and conditions tweaked accordingly.
In addition, Prof. Fait researches the combinations of cultivars and root stocks that will allow water to be used most efficiently in grape cultivation. Trimming, or using trellises to force vines into different growth patterns, can help manage the efficiency of their water use.
Prof. Fait even advises vintners in the famed wine-growing region of Bordeaux, France on how to beat the heat.
“These new strategies for irrigation and shading will keep the wine industry going,” he says.