September 19, 2019
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The winery that uses music as star ingredient

By Joan Mas Autonell

Lotem, Israel, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- An organic winery perched on the hill of an old kibbutz surrounded by holm oaks and olive trees in the biblical region of Galilee produces innovative wines whilst spiritual Indian and Tibetan melodies play and allegedly improve the quality of these beverages.

For the Jonatan Koren winery, music is a key element of the production process with winemaker Koren convinced that it has a knock-on positive effect on the wine.

"We put spiritual music on, like Indian mantra, Tibetan mantra, Peruvian and Brazilian spiritual music, a little bit of Arabic classical music, Hebrew old fashioned music," the winemaker told Efe.

"We believe that wine is art and we are spiritual people in the end and music is part of it," the winemaker told Efe as he swirls the wine around that has macerated in dozens of wooden barrels exposed all year round to the sound of music, a method that is also used some wineries in Italy or South Africa.

He is convinced that some musical styles generate frequencies that help the molecules of the water contained in the wine to be more symmetrical, an effect that causes a chain of chemical connections within the product that makes it much better, the expert continued.

"Music opens people, it opens the soul and opens the heart and it is the same with the wine," Koren added.

"It reflects the wine, it reflects the molecules of the water and in the end, it makes the wine much better.

"That's the reason we put music on."

The Israeli winemaker has allegedly proven this theory with several experiments.

In one of them he subjected a wine that contained a virus to "music therapy", and the germ "disappeared by 80%".

In another case, he submitted a wine of the same harvest to a quality test.

"The one that had been macerated with music got the best result," while the one that did not receive musical stimuli was considered worse by experts, he added.

After ten years applying the same method and producing entirely organic wines, Koren turns-over 40,000 bottles annually, sells them in the local market, focuses on an alternative audience and has a large part of his vineyards in Galilee, a region in that alongside the occupied territory of Golan Heights, harbours 41% of Israeli vineyards.

Galilee, where the Christian tradition states that Jesus Christ turned water into wine, "is ideal for wine production."

Its northern side is especially suitable with a height of between 600 and 900 meters above sea level, its abundant rains and cold winter temperatures, wine expert Ronny Ohayon told Efe.

Flanked by its valleys and mountainous geography, it has a land "deep, with a lot of clay", and "a dry climate with low humidity" that has attracted dozens of wineries and has turned the region into the area where wine of the highest quality in the country is produced, Ohayon said.

Compared to European countries such as France, Italy or Spain, where wine production is steeped in historical tradition, the Israeli wine industry is young.

Its beginnings date back to the 1980s and 90s when several farmers started from scratch and launched their wineries.

Average wine consumption in Israel remains one of the lowest in the world but the sector has boomed in the last few decades with 20% of its production exported abroad.

The local industry sold more than 42 million bottles during 2018, and in its entirety, this market generates profits of more than 500 million euros annually.

In total some eight companies - of which Barkan, Teperberg and Carmel stand out - produce more than one million bottles every year with almost two dozen wineries with the capacity to reach one million and more than two hundred medium to small wineries, Tzahi Dotan, director of the Wine and Grapes Council of Israel, told Efe.

This industry does face some controversy though due to the socio-political tensions in the area.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement have called for boycotts on Isreali wines for having a significant share of crops and wineries in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights.

Dotan did not offer Efe exact figures of how many companies or vineyards are in the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem or the West Bank, all areas that, with Gaza, Israel occupied between 1967-1994.

One of the highlights is the Golan Heights Winery, which is among the top five wine companies and is located in the Katzrin neighborhood also known as the capital of Golan.

In the West Bank, there are others such as the Psagot and Shilo wineries, whose bottles exported to Canada and labeled as "Product of Israel" were subject to the complaint of a citizen who argued that they could not be labeled as such when they came from an occupied territory.

A court ruled in its favor stating the wines produced in the West Bank could not be labeled a "Product of Israeli" product because it would be "false, wrong and misleading", a measure that the European Union has also adopted. EFE-EPA

jma/ch

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