Many years of conventional farming have taken their toll. Chemical fertilizers, as well as herbicides, violate the natural balance between plants and animals. The result is a disruption which creates damage. Resistant weeds take over and require ever more intensive use of herbicides, and the fabric of life in the soil is severely damaged. The earth loses its living organisms – organisms that interact with the vegetation and without which there can be no healthy growth.
I have seen this happen more than once in older vineyards. Also, during my years at work, I have seen many old vineyards that, when they reached the stage where they were weakened, were uprooted.
As a land worker, who is connected to the land and to its roots, the loss of deep-rooted vineyards saddens me each time anew, since I believe that the vines can be rejuvenated by environmentally friendly farming. The key is in the soil, and all that we are asked for is to balance it. To restore the life and biodiversity it has lost.
In the 2013 vintage, we added a very small and old vineyard (about 40 years old) to the vineyards with which our winery works. The vineyard showed excellent potential, but many years of conventional agriculture took their toll.
I chose this vineyard, despite its old age, precisely because of its age and size, and because I knew that the large wineries would not continue to hold it. In this vineyard I decided to begin the rehabilitation process, which included the cessation of use of fertilizers and herbicides, pruning and growing organically. The vineyard responded well. And even though we had to face a considerable reduction in crop quantities over the first three years, it seems that the vineyard is recovering. The quality of the grapes is amazing and allows me to produce wines like I always dreamed. Wines that evidently express a unique plot.
The success of the restoration of the Shuni vineyard and the insights I acquired during this rehabilitation project led me, in 2016, to begin the rehabilitation of another vineyard, the old Carignan vineyard in Umm Tut. This vineyard grows without irrigation. In the 2017 season, we have also added a Columbard vineyard (white variety) to our vineyards reserve, which is also not irrigated at all, and where we've also began the process of rehabilitating soil and vines.
I believe it is correct to say that in the vineyard of the Carignan in Shuni in 2013, we started our little vineyard revolution. We took vineyards and reversed the direction of the processes of decline. An old vineyard, which was decaying and respirated by chemical fertilizers, embarked on a path of recovery, in which the soil is improving and life is increasing year by year.
Today we base our wine production on these old vineyards that are grown using organic methods, while also enriching and improving the soil. We completely stopped receiving grapes from plots not grown in this way.
Rebalancing a plot of land is, indeed, an expensive process that requires time, investment, patience, knowledge and diligence, and of course a partnership with nature. Sometimes the road is not easy. But for us this is probably the only road ...