Wine creator: Chapter 1 – Nitzan Swersky, Ahat Winery

Written by: Neomi Hadar Hoffman Translated by: Bella Peled

 

A new section at HaShizra blog – an artistic project by Neomi Hadar Hoffman, in which she brings us closely together with Israeli female vintners through words and photographs.

 

“The decision to tie my path with grapes and wine was taken in 2002, during a tour through vineyards and wineries in Italy, among the sights and flavors, the people and the wines” shares Nitzan, and I can clearly see the picture and understand what she is talking about.


I first heard about “Ahat” by Nitzan Swersky three years ago. I was turned on by the name, and even more by the idea behind it, and I ordered a case to celebrate my birthday. Since then, I’ve been following Nitzan and her wines, and it was only natural to begin the “wine creator” project with her.

This project brings – using words and a camera – another perspective and reveals the layers of women that are engaged in the craft of making wine.

We met for a photoshoot at Sorek Winery, where Nitzan makes her wine, during a busy day of bottling. We met again, this time in a very different environment, at her vineyards in the village of Kfar Shamai a moment after sunrise. Nitzan’s journey as a winemaker began during a tour in Italy. She describes this time as a “multi-sensory experience”, where she was inspired to set a new course for her life. Nitzan went on to study viticulture and enology in Italy and then completed a masters in Spain. After gaining experience in winemaking in South Africa, Nitzan eventually returned to her home in Israel, gave birth to her first daughter and established her winery “Ahat”.


Nitzan Swersky, “Ahat” Winery, by Neomi Hadar Hoffman


Nitzan defines herself as “mother and vintner”. I was moved to find out how much motherhood is present in her approach to viticulture and wine. “Wine is like a child, I can teach it and guide it, but eventually it does what it wants and what believes to be right, what it is destined to be, it has its own entity”.


I am fascinated by the process of winemaking and how you can feel the fingerprint of each vintner in their product. For Nitzan the winemaking process begins in the vineyard. Every action has an effect on the final product. Each decision regarding the way the grapes grow, the irrigation, the fertilization, and the pruning has a direct correlation to the final result in bottle.


And like every creative process, the enthusiasm is present. It begins with bud break (when the vines wake up from their winter dormancy) in the vineyard and grows as the grapes ripen. With excitement comes anticipation, the suspense, the follow up, the tests, the emotional turbulence, and moments of ups and downs. Much like pregnancy. These emotions peak during harvest, when grapes are picked and then processed in the winery. For Nitzan, it feels like a birth experience, and undoubtedly the happiest time of the year.

A chapter closes, a process begins, a new wine is born. This period is characterized by the joy of creation, and the constant escort of the newborn with its every move. The wine changes with each day, “everything is extreme, on steroids” and only when the fermentation is finished you can relax and rest.

Nitzan Swersky, “Ahat” Winery, by Neomi Hadar Hoffman


The next stage is more peaceful, more structured, and allows Nitzan calmly think, and taste, to weigh the different options and combinations, until reaching the exact balance. This balance is pivotal, Nitzan aspires to find it in both texture and flavors “with minimal intervention and without drawing to any sort of extreme”, and this is also her aspiration in life itself. A moment before bottling there is a dialogue between the lack of certainty, that asks whether this is the best blend that can been created, and the acceptance of the child that was born and that you love just the way it is.


Nitzan Swersky, “Ahat” Winery, by Neomi Hadar Hoffman


When Nitzan talks about wine her voice changes at once and she soars, “wine is magical, it changes, it has life, and just like a dance, it has its line, its language, its motion of development, I am trying to lead, but in the end, I understand that the wine leads me. I can want, plan, direct but whatever happens, happens and I love it”.

Ever since I met Nitzan, Yoram Teharlev’s song “Turning Grapes into Wine” is playing in my head, I attach a link - here.


 

Neomi Adar Hoffman – manager of culture institution and content creator.

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