Making wine is an art form, some might say, or maybe an exact science? According to the scientist founders of the Karmei Yosef Winery, Professors Ben Ami Bravdo and Oded Shoseyov, it’s both. Located at the foothills of Jerusalem, on terrain that might have once hosted King Solomon’s vineyards, Karmei Yosef’s produces signature BRAVDO wines. What makes BRAVDO wine unique is the way the colleagues implemented chemistry techniques (and a good bit of intuition) in grape harvesting.
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Bravdo himself has quite the rich academic background, with a career spanning almost four decades, and has trained many of Israel’s leading horticulturists, including some successful winemakers. One of those students was Shoseyov, who, upon opening his winery, approached Bravdo, based on his admiration for him during his student days. Together, they opened the Karmei Yosef Winery.
Have you ever wondered why a certain wine tastes really good while others don’t, Shoseyov asks? Is it the age of the wine? The winery? The alcohol level? As it turns out none of these are the deciding factor. “Most of the taste and aroma our taste buds identify when drinking wine comes mainly from the grape,” Shoseyov, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the biochemistry of grape and wine flavor evolution, tells NoCamels.
Ben Ami Bravdo, himself a professor of horticulture, also spent years conducting studies analyzing the chemical process of wine and wine-making. “Chemical analysis of the fruit towards the harvest enables us to determine the optimal time for harvest and ensure color quality and stability as well as flavor and aroma,” Bravdo tells NoCamels. After Shoseyov received his PhD, the two chemists started developing techniques for optimizing grape flavor.
“I really wanted to study agriculture, but my grades did not meet the faculty of agriculture’s standard so I studied chemistry instead,” Shoseyov says. He declares that he is grateful for the way things turned out, as a new-found passion for chemistry — what he calls the “basis to all life sciences” helped him fulfull his other passion — wine making.
In the footsteps of King Solomon
In 2001, the Karmei Yosef Winery opened its vineyards, on land that had belonged to Shoseyov’s family for nearly a century and a half. The winery is located at the end of a rocky little road, near Jerusalem and bordering the Moshav (agricultural community) Karmei Yosef.
The romantic landscape is made yet more enchanting when one discovers the area likely hosted King Solomon’s own vineyards. This discovery happened when winemaking tools dating back to that time were found in the soil while building Karmei Yosef.
The technique used at Karmei Yosef to grow and harvest the grapes for production is unique, the winemakers say. The two scientists use techniques such as sunlight exposure management to make sure the grapes produce maximum aroma. When harvest time comes, there’s also a chemical twist.
“The Karmei Yosef vineyard is like my own practical research lab,” Bravdo’s says. He explains that he and Shoseyov use a technique called water stressing for irrigation and conduct periodic chemical analyses of the must (the freshly pressed fruit juice) and the wine throughout the entire period of fermentation and aging, to ensure a fruity and tasteful wine.
“We want BRAVDO wines to have an intense fruity flavor,” Shoseyov tells NoCamels. He adds that the Jerusalem’s foothills are an ideal location for their grapes to grow because of the low humidity rate in the region.
Karmei Yosef’s catalogue of wines is minimalistic yet varied; they offer Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Coupage, and Shiraz. Renowned Israeli wine critic Daniel Rogov has given the BRAVDO collection an excellent review in 2010, awarding all of the wines a score of around 90.
Bravdo and Shoseyov’s Shiraz also earned them the Gold Medal in the 2012 World Wine Championship in Chicago.
However, you will not find Karmei Yosef wines at your local supermarket. Bravdo says that his signature wines can only be found in select restaurants and wine boutiques worldwide. So, when travelling to Jerusalem, you might want to make a little stop down that rocky terrain.