For the Love of Wine

June 14, 2019

Desert & Water Research

By Tehilla R. Goldberg, an Americans for Ben-Gurion University 2019 Murray Fromson Journalism Fellow

Eran and Schachar Raz. owners and grape growers of Nana Estate winery in the Negev

Intermountain Jewish News – Nana Estate, a vineyard in Mitzpe Ramon, a town in the middle of the vast expanse of the Negev Desert, has found a way to harness solar power in conjunction with the dry desert to produce exquisite-tasting wines.

Nana, in partnership with Ben-Gurion University, an academic crown jewel of southern Israel, has revived viticulture in the Negev. Prof. Aaron Fait of BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research has developed a hydraulic system for protecting grape clusters from premature oxidation and solar radiation, specifically controlling how and when to move the liquid to the vines, giving the vintner full control in producing his wine.

Prof. Aaron Fait at Nana Estate

This synergistic match between vintner and scientist was made by one of Prof. Fait’s doctoral students, who set up a small experiment, leveraging the vineyard’s proximity of Nana Estate to the University, and made the introduction between the two.

The rest is history.

Today, by using this laboratory technique developed at Ben-Gurion, this boutique winery, Nana, produces barrels and barrels of the loveliest, most superb wines. The demand for this niche, unique dessert wine, which some vintners consider to be the best vintage in the region, is only growing.

The setting is a beautiful, thriving vineyard. Greeted by a circle of scented lavender, a small grove of apricots and, just beyond that, a cross between a rustic-looking pergola and a gazebo, is a free-standing chuppah-looking structure. It is held by rustic planks of wood planted in terracotta pots of overflowing geraniums in pinks and reds, canopied by billowing white fabric. By day, it’s a place to bask in the sunlight. By night (I can only imagine) under an open starlit sky.

Nana’s trellised vineyards truly were and are tended to in the spirit of a labor of love, perhaps beyond the usual dedication demanded these days of a vintner, and that spirit permeates Nana Estate. It provides a relaxing time, laced with libations and laughter.

Love of the land of Israel. Love of family, including a grandmother. Love of wine making. And love of science. All captured in one sip of wine at Nana Estate.


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