Jacques Capsouto chose to plant a vineyard in Peki’in in the Galilee – “In the coming decade, the world will learn to appreciate the Israeli wines” Jacques Capsouto, the owner of the French bistro in New York had a dream: the grow grapes and produce wine. He planned that one day after he retires from the restaurant business, he would do it in California or Oregon. To date, Capsouto is still a restaurateur and his bistro is still successful, but he is realizing his dream. Not in the USA but in Moshav New Peki’in in the Galilee. Capsouto passion is Israeli wine, and he believes that in the coming decade the fans of wine in the world will appreciate the locally produced wines. In his opinion, what happened to the wine in Chile, Argentina, and Australia will have to Israeli wine- and he will become a huge success. Capsouto does not satisfy with just words but rather by deeds. His restaurant serves wines from Yarden Winery, Dalton, Kedem and Recanti.
We met Capsouto in his bistro, located in Tribeca, just weeks after his last trip of three weeks to Israel. We have completed the planting of the vines, he told. We had to complete the planting before Tu’ b’ Av in order to avoid the complications of the upcoming Shmittah year. If we would have delayed, then we would lose the first crop, which will be ready in 2014. Capsouto explains the decision to raise the vineyard in Israel, ” California is flooded with wineries and I am not familiar with anyone in Oregon, in France there is too much bureaucracy and too many laws. In Israel, on the other hand, a young industry which works is producing quality wine and looks to me to be promising. I am a Zionist, as were my parents. My mother always told me that I should do something in Israel. I have family throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Metulla, and I am joined to the country. Still far from the world map According to Hiam Gan, the professional manager of “Grape Man” that provides advice and instruction in the field of wine and alcohol, the foreign investors that are developing vineyards in Israel are motivated by far by emotion. “The field of wine is sentimental and sexy. ” Business people who decide to invest in vineyards and wineries do not do so through cold and rational business thinking.
Take for example, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Gerard Depardieu who own their own wineries out of the love of wine. When speaking of Jewish owners, the sentimental connection is stronger. The word wine is mentioned 139 times in the Tanach – Bible, and there is a strong emotional connection to the land in the State of Israel. Many Jewish people feel a strong need to set down roots in the Jewish land.The Israeli wine industry has developed in recent years, notes Gan, but we are still a long way from being part of the world map in this field. “Just for the sake of portions, the size of the industry in Israel is 60,000 dunams of vines- comparative to a small village in Italy”.According to Gan, “the terrior (the word used to encompass the composition of the soil, the weather and micro weather in a distinct region) in the Upper Galilee- is recognized to be the best growing area , more than Bordeaux , due to its stable climate. In August there is never any rain, the days are hot, while the rainy days are also clear and constant. With that said, not all of the Galilee is suitable for growing vineyard. It depends also on the angle of the sun, the type of soil and other factors.”