Thursday, August 26, 2010

Harvest Time in Gush Etzion

After our Raise Your Spirits guest performance for Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat on Tuesday (, my husband treated my daughter (our photographer) and myself to lunch at the Gush Etzion Winery. The place was packed. It usually is. (In fact, totally by chance, our director Toby Klein Greenwald and production manager Eudice Spitz were there too - decompressing.)
And there was added excitement. The trucks overflowing with grapes had just arrived and were being emptied into larger containers before they entered the wine production chain.
The Winery's co-owner Tamar Rosenberg took us on a tour of the harvested grapes. They were gorgeous Merlot grapes that were headed to two different wineries - our own Gush Etzion winery and one further north, the Tishbi Winery of Zichron Yaakov - for their reserves. (Amitz of Kibbutz Migdal Oz was running the truck. He poured thousands of bunches of grapes into the special transport container. They formed "purple mountains majesty" across the top of the red container.)
Isn't that terrific - the Tishbi Winery will be producing a wine with the delicious essence of Gush Etzion inside. That's a very unifying thought!!!
Of course, the Gush Etzion Winery, headed by Shraga Rosenberg, will also be using these grapes for their own production of Merlot wine.
Tamar invited us to taste the grapes. Yummy, juice, sweet, almost alive.
She explained that while the wine production would begin momentarily, it would be at least 20 months before these grapes became bottled wine - ready for the customer to take home.

Blessed Grapes
The dark purple grapes (such a deep and rich blue, they look like blueberries) were from Shraga's fields at Emek Bracha, between the Gush Etzion Junction and the Gush Etzion Army Base. These fields are actually the winery's experimental fields. At Emek Bracha, the grape vines are planted further apart, receive more air and sunlight, but less water than other fields. These fields themselves have a special bracha (blessing) that we read about in the book of Chronicles II (20:26). The Jewish King Jehosaphat and his soldiers blessed G-d for the miracle He had done for them when He destroyed their enemies. "...they gathered at Emek HaBracha for they blessed Hashem there..."
These lucious grapes are used for the GE Winery's high-end wines Emek Bracha, as well as its Nachal HaPirim line.
Wine production as about to begin, and as dedicated I am to my readers and viewers, I couldn't stay to watch the rest, because my lunch was ready - salmon salad with fresh greens and mango. (The salmon was singed in teriyaki sauce. Unbelievable! Plus whole wheat bread and garlic butter. Still warm. Yum.)
I did make a video of the beginning of production. IY"H, as soon as I complete this Rosh Hashana issue of Voices, I'll add it to this blog. But meanwhile, you can see the wine production yourself if you pop over to the Gush Etzion Winery at the Gush Etzion Junction.
Moreover, if you'd like to place some of the finest wines in Israel on your Rosh Hashana table, or that of your host, you must stop over at the Gush Etzion Winery and pick out some of their home-grown award-winning wines.

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