Winemaking as an appropriate agricultural export for Israel

by Maskil on 16 Apr 2008

I enjoyed this article regarding the Domaine du Castel winery (although I have to confess that I know and enjoy little about wine). This comment from owner Eli Ben-Zaken in particular caught my attention:

For Ben-Zaken, winemaking is an appropriate agricultural export for Israel, because so little water is required to grow grapes compared to oranges and other foods, but it is also an important way to connect Israel to the rest of the Western world. “Wine-making is something we share. It’s visceral, and it’s a bridge to other Western countries.”

The article continued by saying that:

So far, however, no one else has copied Ben-Zaken’s high-density planting. “From the beginning we believed that this is the answer to high-quality wines, but so far no other wine producers here have copied us, probably because of the expense involved in buying the grapes and the narrow tractors to fit between the rows,” says Ben-Zaken. He scoffs at the label ‘boutique’ and explains that in France the term for wineries that produce less than 3,000 bottles a year is ‘garagiste’; being a small winery in France, however, isn’t necessarily equated with being a new winery. “Many of the garagistes have been making wine for generations,” he points out.

In some of my previous postings, I’ve tried to develop the argument that Israel needs to transform its agricultural sector into one that is water and land in-tensive[1], rather than one that is water and land ex-tensive. Such a transformation is essential if Israeli agriculture is to survive the market, natural and man-made forces arrayed against it. Statements such as this, however, carry a lot more weight when made by those who are actually doing it!


Meet that little old winemaker, Ben-Zaken

Altneuland: Boutique wineries: a model for the survival of Israeli agriculture?

Altneuland: Water: What price should Israeli agriculture pay?

Domaine du Castel

Domaine du Castel « HaKerem: The Israeli Wine Blog

[1] By water and land intensive agriculture I mean one that uses both finite resources as efficiently (lovingly would not be too strong a term) as possible.

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