When deciding what varieties to grow, when you are growing in a largely untested environment, it is not an easy task. We decided to plant Shiraz and Merlot which have very good results in harsh environments. The third variety was an interesting choice. We chose Cabernet Sauvignon because it is a prolific grower in almost any environment but has a very sensitive fruit. Typically Cabernet grapes are not considered as high quality from the desert as from cooler areas.
Reason for this is that our extreme sunshine ripens the grapes before the skin is sufficiently mature therefore producing a marvelous juice but an immature skin that does not contribute sufficiently to the wine. We were determined to at least see if we could come up with a solution to the problem. What we needed to do was two things. Firstly to find an effective way to manage the shade canopy and secondly a way to delay the ripening of the grapes.
After a lot of and planning, we realised that a commercial solution to our sun problem was not available. When evaluating shade screening the only offered solution was going to give us either too much or not enough shade. We decided then to let nature take care of the shade. I heard it once said that 'the vines are much smarter than we are' and it is true.
If we were going to let the vines provide their own shade canopy it would mean that we could not trellis our vines in a conventional way as the lifting of the branches would surely disturb the way the vines would want to protect themselves. The solution to the shade also provided a solution to our second problem, delaying the ripening - so what was the solution?
We decided to alter the old traditional kniffen double tier trellising system and adapt it to our conditions. What we do is that our tier closest to the ground is pruned and trained as would a conventional single tier vine. The second tier is thinned of fruit much more than the lower tier and therefore promotes more leaf and shade on the upper tier. The upper tier is not tied back but is left to sprawl. This provides excellent shade for the fruit and also places an extra yield load on the vine. The result, a slightly higher yield but well shaded and a delay in ripening of up to three weeks - critical for excellent reds!
2016 saw our first harvest. From this we selected the Shiraz and Merlot only as the Cabernet was not mature enough to stand alone as a single vineyard, single varietal wine. The wines were delivered from the Ramat Negev winery in June 2017.
We received very good reviews for our wines and to our pleasant surprise a very good reception in a very competitive market - even exporting some wine to Singapore.
2017, our second harvest produced a larger harvest and with the vines maturing a subsequent increase in quality. The 2017 vintage will include for the first time our own Cabernet. We will send out reviews and evaluations once we have received the wine. Wine will be available for local and international shipping in our on-line store.