Israeli wine harvest threatened

The Hezb'allah attack on northern Israel had, among many other serious consequences, the effect of postponing, and possibly ruining, the harvest of Israel's wine grapes, most of which are grown in the north. The American Thinker has published Sidney Retsky's coverage of Israel's growing and highly promising wine industry, so our readers may be somewhat more familiar than most Americans with the threat's magnitude.

The San Francisco Chronicle, which has the best wine industry coverage of any American newspaper, today highlights the situation:

Winemaker Lewis Pasco of Israel's Recanati Winery says that if the cease—fire holds, picking will commence next week at Kibbutz Manara, one of his best and largest suppliers. But the damage there is substantial.

Located just south of the Lebanese border, the kibbutz was showered by Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets. The vineyard manager was unable to work in the vineyard once the war started in mid—July, so the vines could not be monitored for mildew nor the grapes tested for sugar, routine practices at this time of year. At least half the crop is a loss due to poor quality. The home next to the vineyard manager's was shelled and destroyed. "I'm calling him once a week to see if he's still alive," says Pasco wryly.

Here in California, our harvest comes just a bit later. Mildew can be a major problem is the weather is damp, and it can spread rapidly, ruining the crop. One bad cluster of mildewed grapes can spoil an entire batch of wine. Sugar monitoring ("brix" as it is called in the industry) is essential to determining the right moment for harvesting. If the weather has been hot and dry, sugar levels could have risen beyond normal optimal levels. The right brix is a judgment call, by the way. Some like to work with higher sugar levels, which yield a more alcoholic wine in the end. In our winery (I am a partner), we follow brix closely at harvest season, and jump into action immediately when each vineyard is ready.

The Chron coverage ends in a 'can't we all get along" moment. But it rings at least somewhat true in this instance:

"I feel like it's incredibly sad," says Pasco, who would love to have more interaction with his Lebanese winemaking counterparts. Last June, at Vinexpo, a trade fair in France, Pasco visited the Lebanese wine booth and tasted the wines and the Lebanese, noting his Israeli badge, later came by his booth to taste his wines.

"Wine for the most part transcends geopolitical borders," says the winemaker. "It's a civilizing thing, and in our best moments, we like to think about it that way."

In my experience, wine makers get along with each other. Politics means nothing. Perhaps it is the shared experience of wrestling with nature's imperatives, which tend to awe even the most experienced and knowledgeable among us.

Thomas Lifson   8 17 06

The Hezb'allah attack on northern Israel had, among many other serious consequences, the effect of postponing, and possibly ruining, the harvest of Israel's wine grapes, most of which are grown in the north. The American Thinker has published Sidney Retsky's coverage of Israel's growing and highly promising wine industry, so our readers may be somewhat more familiar than most Americans with the threat's magnitude.

The San Francisco Chronicle, which has the best wine industry coverage of any American newspaper, today highlights the situation:

Winemaker Lewis Pasco of Israel's Recanati Winery says that if the cease—fire holds, picking will commence next week at Kibbutz Manara, one of his best and largest suppliers. But the damage there is substantial.

Located just south of the Lebanese border, the kibbutz was showered by Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets. The vineyard manager was unable to work in the vineyard once the war started in mid—July, so the vines could not be monitored for mildew nor the grapes tested for sugar, routine practices at this time of year. At least half the crop is a loss due to poor quality. The home next to the vineyard manager's was shelled and destroyed. "I'm calling him once a week to see if he's still alive," says Pasco wryly.

Here in California, our harvest comes just a bit later. Mildew can be a major problem is the weather is damp, and it can spread rapidly, ruining the crop. One bad cluster of mildewed grapes can spoil an entire batch of wine. Sugar monitoring ("brix" as it is called in the industry) is essential to determining the right moment for harvesting. If the weather has been hot and dry, sugar levels could have risen beyond normal optimal levels. The right brix is a judgment call, by the way. Some like to work with higher sugar levels, which yield a more alcoholic wine in the end. In our winery (I am a partner), we follow brix closely at harvest season, and jump into action immediately when each vineyard is ready.

The Chron coverage ends in a 'can't we all get along" moment. But it rings at least somewhat true in this instance:

"I feel like it's incredibly sad," says Pasco, who would love to have more interaction with his Lebanese winemaking counterparts. Last June, at Vinexpo, a trade fair in France, Pasco visited the Lebanese wine booth and tasted the wines and the Lebanese, noting his Israeli badge, later came by his booth to taste his wines.

"Wine for the most part transcends geopolitical borders," says the winemaker. "It's a civilizing thing, and in our best moments, we like to think about it that way."

In my experience, wine makers get along with each other. Politics means nothing. Perhaps it is the shared experience of wrestling with nature's imperatives, which tend to awe even the most experienced and knowledgeable among us.

Thomas Lifson   8 17 06