Winemaking starts at the vineyard...

We planted our vineyards with high quality in mind. The vineyards are at an average altitude of 700m. Most of them are on slopes facing north and some in deep valleys facing northwest where the hours of sunshine are shorter. As our hills are the first facing the Mediterranean Sea we enjoy an excellent summer breeze even on the hottest days and in winter above average precipitation (usually 700mm). Most winters we get some snow but rarely heavy falls.
Prof. Amos Hadas, soil scientist and viticulturist, places our vineyards, microclimate wise much further north than their actual location.
The soil is terra rossa, clay and limestone with lots of stones and benefits from good drainage, especially as all the vineyards are on sloping ground. It is an ideal "wine country" soil, very similar to some of the best vineyards in the world.

In the summer, our average daily temperatures are much lower than usual for our latitude and the prevailing winds are northwesterly. The nights are damp and cool and the days are very dry (35% average relative humidity), which is excellent for mold prevention. The temperature difference between day and night averages at 10 degrees centigrade and can be as much as 16 degrees centigrade during the months of ripening. This is especially suitable to achieve good acidity and phenolic maturity.

15.2 Hectares planted as follows:

Cabernet Sauvignon 6.4h – Merlot 3.3h – Petit Verdot 1.2h – Cabernet Franc 0.5h – Malbec 0.4h – Chardonnay 3.4h

High Density x Low Vigour = Low Yield

Standard planting density in Israel is 2200 vines per hectare. 76% of the vineyards of Domaine du Castel are planted at a density of 6700 vines per hectare and 24% at 4400, yielding an average of 50hl/h.
The vines were grafted on different types of low vigour root stocks to spread the period of maturity over several days and prevent having all the grapes ready for harvesting at the same time.
Most of the work in the vineyard is done by hand, canopy management – pruning and thinning – and after a cluster count in June a number of green clusters are harvested to reduce the yield. Also all lateral growth of stalks is eliminated to clear the cluster area and allow more sunshine on the grapes. We use drip irrigation very sparingly (the equivalent of an average of 40mm of rain) to manage the water stress and to achieve the kind of maturity that make great grapes. The harvest is done by a team of 20 to 30 harvesters.