Driving along the beautiful Highway number one between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, one can see dozens of newly planted vineyards. The young grape vines can easily be recognized by the milk cartons placed on the bottom of the vine to protect it from deer and other hungry residents of the Judean Hills. Once the vine settles in, it is not as susceptible as it is in the first few months after being planted. The fruit that the vine produces is not as lucky.
Barkan Winery which recently opened a large visitor center in Kibbuts Hulda, is one of the largest growers of the new vineyards in the Judean Hills. The growers working for Barkan, recently placed a 16 kilometer long fence intended to protect their vines from the deer roaming the area. You see, it took a bit of time before the deer realized that the grapes taste good, and when they did, the damage to the yield quickly grew. The trouble is that deer need to have access to food on one hand, but be able to flee away from their predators by running faster up the mountains and out maneuver the jackals, foxes, hyenas and stray dogs of the region. With the presence of a 3 meter fence this becomes highly problematic, and they are often trapped with nowhere to escape.
In an interview to Ynet, Amir Balvan from the Israeli Wild Life Protection Agency said “ This is one of the most important ecological hallways in Israel and is being used by approximately a hundred deer as well as other species.“ We at Israel Wine Tour, cannot help but agree with him. It is imperative to find solutions such as plastic sleeves that would protect the grape vines. Ideally, such a solution would make the fences around the vineyards obsolete. But not all solutions are full proof. Grape growers that are using the plastic protective sleeves are reporting that any fresh leaves that sprout outside the protective sleeves are constantly eaten by deer. It is clear that more trial and error is required in order to solve this problem. Protecting the wildlife of Israel is something the wineries of the region have to be able to pride themselves with.