There is something special and unique about each winery, especially the small ones. The people, the place, the process. For the Kadma Winery, it’s all of the above, but most particularly the latter.
Kadma is located in Kfar Uriya, where the wine making tradition dates back to biblical times, as evidenced by the ancient stone hewn crushing floors and wine storage pools that can still be seen throughout the area. When they decided to establish their winery, winemaker Lina Slutzkin and her extremely supportive husband Vlad wanted to include ancient wine making elements in the process. From her childhood in Soviet Georgia (Gruzia) Lina remembered local wines being made in huge clay vessels, and she decided to look into it. I won’t go into the whole story, but the bottom line is that Lina and Vlad decided to use these kinds of vessels, they call them earthenware tuns, for their winery. Acquiring the tuns was no mean undertaking, as such vessels are only made in Georgia, and only by a very few people.
Kadma held their festive grand opening last Thursday evening and I was privileged to be invited. While Lina greeted and chatted with guests, Vlad gave tours of the winery and described the production process of both the tuns and Kadma’s wines.
After crushing, the grapes and juice go into the tuns where the fermenting takes place. The inside of the tuns are coated with beeswax, which minimizes seepage, and which also helps keep the wine fresh due to its antibacterial properties. Curiously, and fortunately, the beeswax does not inhibit the activity of the yeast.
After the tour, there was a screening of a movie all about the winery, followed by a few words of thanks by Lina to everyone who helped with the design and construction of the winery, and with the winemaking process. When planning the winery, Lina and Vlad put emphasis on making it ecco-friendly. The roof is covered with solar panels that produce more electricity than the winery uses. In addition, the walls are well insulated, the exposures minimize heat buildup inside, and climbing vines cover the southern walls to shade them from the sun.
Also to speak were Dr. Arkadi Papikian who provided consulting services and support throughout the winemaking process, and Moshe Dadon, mayor of the Matte Yehuda Regional Council.
The 2010 vintage is Kadma’s first, and there are three wines: a varietal Sangiovese, a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, and a sweet desert wine made from Sangiovese and Petit Verdot. All of the grapes are from vineyards in the north, though I do believe Kadma plans to use their own grapes once the vines they planted are sufficiently mature.
Of the three, I enjoyed the Sangiovese the most. I don’t know if fermentation in the earthenware tuns has anything to do with it, but this wine tastes significantly more mature and integrated than I would expect from such a recent vintage. On the other hand, the color and flavor of the Cabernet Sauvignion attest to its youth and while it is certainly approachable now, I suspect I will enjoy it more in a year or so. The desert wine was very flavorful, but as with most such wines, too sweet for my taste.
At the “bar” Vlad was pouring shots of his grappa (or grape vodka as he calls it), made by distilling the grape skins after fermentation. At 45% alcohol, the grappa is powerful, but much smoother than the proof would suggest. This grappa goes down very easy, and I admit that I had more than one shot.
Kadma is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays and I strongly recommend paying them a visit. As with all small wineries, please call in advance.