2000 Years of Viticulture

October 22, 2013

Etri Modern Vineyards Etri ruins on the hill in the background

Photographer: Menashe Davidson
Summary Author: Menashe Davidson

The photo above shows vineyards in the Nahal (Dry River) area of Israel. The view is from Nahal Shua looking south to the hill of Etri Ruin located in Adullam Nature Reserve. These ruins are seen on the top of the hill. In ancient times vineyards along with olives, figs, carobs were the primary crops in the Judean Hills region, which surrounding the biblical cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron. Extensive ground preparation was necessary to grow crops in the rocky terrain of ancient Israel. Dry farming, relying only on rainfall, was practiced using an elaborate system of terraces (at left). Vineyard horticulture is described in the Bible as well as in ancient texts.

Ancient dry farming on terracesAlthough some grapes were consumed right from the vine, most were brought to the wine presses for the activity of treading the grapes. Wine presses (gats) from these old times are found throughout the Judean Hill country, such as the one at bottom left, in the Etri village ruins. The first stone basin in the front served for treading the gapes by feet with a runoff drain for the juice to flow to a second deeper basin in the back.

Today, 2,000 years later, the old tradition of growing grapes continues. Thanks to physical qualities that include abundant sunshine, sufficient rainfall and adequate soil as well as to agricultural practices Old  GAT wine-pressesthat include proper soil management, plant protection and improvement of rootstocks, the Judean Hills are still a prime area for grape growing. Photo at top taken on May 20, 2013.

Photo details: Top - Camera Model: NIKON D80; Focal Length: 50.0mm (35mm equivalent: 75mm); Aperture: f/16.0; Exposure Time: 0.025 s (1/40); ISO equiv: 100. Terraces - Camera Model: NIKON D80; Focal Length: 18.0mm (35mm equivalent: 27mm); Aperture: f/14.0; Exposure Time: 0.010 s (1/100); ISO equiv: 160. Wine presses - Camera Model: NIKON D80; Focal Length: 18.0mm (35mm equivalent: 27mm); Aperture: f/18.0; Exposure Time: 0.013 s (1/80); ISO equiv: 100.