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Delhi Wine Club
The Story of Israeli Wine

Posted: Wednesday, 09 May 2012 13:52

The Story of Israeli Wine

Archaeologists confirm that Wine has been produced on the Israeli soil since pre-Biblical times, with the Old Testament describing vine growing and winemaking since more than 2000 years ago but The Golan Heights Winery is considered a pioneer as the present day producer, writes Yair Kornblum who also lists briefly, the big and important wineries

Click For Large ViewHistory of Israeli wines

Wine has been produced in the Land of Israel since pre-Biblical times. Archaeologists agree that it was one of the cradles of vine cultivation and winemaking of the ancient era. Ancient wine presses are spread from the Golan Heights and Galilee in the north, to Samaria and Judea in the center, reaching the Negev desert in the south. Jars of wines were discovered in every part of the country and it is known that during the Bronze Age, the Egyptian Pharaohs ordered wines from Israel.

The cultivation of grapes and winemaking were spread during the period of the first and second temples and the kings of Israel and Judah owned big vineyards and wine cellars. The largest complex of wineries was discovered in Gibeon, north of Jerusalem, where dozens of rock-cut cellars were found. The Old Testament describes vine growing and winemaking dating from more than 2000 years ago. It refers to the word "wine" more than 200 times, "vine" more than 60, "vineyard" more than 90 and "winepress" – 15 times.

Moslem conquest in 636 AD blocked the wine industry for 1,200 years. Wine production started again, in 1870 thanks to the aid of Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Until the 1980s, most of the wines were of low quality.

Present day wineries

The Golan Heights Winery, which started to operate in 1983, was the quality pioneer in the wine industry. The winery built a modern production plant in Katzrin and employed oenologists trained in California. In the coming years many other wineries improved the quality of their wines. Today are operating five major wineries, few medium-sized and around 200 small wineries. Many companies are producing wines of good quality and a few are producing highly awarded wines.

The official wine regions of Israel (EU registered) are the following:
• Samaria – Mt. Carmel; Sharon Plain
• Negev – Beersheba Valley; Northern Negev Plateau
• Samson – Upper Shefela; Gezer; Latroun
• Galilee – Central Upper Galilee; Golan Heights; Northern Upper Galilee; Lower Galilee
• Judean Hills – Bet El Hills; Bethlehem Hills; Hebron Hills; Jerusalem Mountains

Grape Varieties in Israeli wines

White: Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Emerald Riesling (a cross between Muscadelle and Riesling), Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Viognier.

Red: Argaman (An Israeli cross between Suozao and Carignan), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carignan, Gamay, Grenache, Merlot, Petit Syrah, Pinot Noir, Pinotage, Sangiovese, Syrah and Tempranillo.

The harvest of wine grapes amounts to about 50,000 metric tons annually.


Here is a description of a few large wineries and some that represent the Israeli industry scenario:


Click For Large ViewEstablished in 1882 by Baron Edmond De Rothschild as a cooperative with wineries in Rishon LeZion in the central coastal region and in Zichron Yaakov in the Mount Carmel region, Carmel is the largest wine producer in Israel. The company produces about 10 million bottles annually. Production include the top "Limited Edition" label, the Mediterranean release, the Single Vineyard series, the "Regional" series, the "Private Collection" series and the popular "Selected" series.


Founded in 1990 the winery is located in Kibbutz Hulda in the central plain. The production is of about 8 million bottles a year. It consists of three main series - the top "Superieur", "Reserve" and "Classic". Barkan is the owner of Segal Wines with a production of 1.5 million bottles.

Golan Heights Winery

Golan Heights Winery placed Israel in the international wine market. Located in Katzrin in the Golan Heights, with vineyards in the Golan and in the Upper Galilee, the winery produces over 6 million bottles a year. There are three series, "Yarden", "Gamla" and "Golan", and the top "Katzrin" series that includes a Chardonnay and a red blend produced only in exceptional years. The varietal wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and sparkling Blanc de Blanc made in the traditional method.


The winery was established in 1870 by the Teperberg family in the old city of Jerusalem and currently is located in Kibutz Tzora, 20 Km from the city. The top series is "Tepperberg Reserve" followed by the "Terra" series and the "Silver" series. The winery produces about 4 million bottles annually.


Established in 1948 as "Eliaz Wineries" in Haifa the winery moved to the town of Binyamina at the foothills of the Carmel Mountains. The company produces about 3 million bottles annually from a large variety of grapes. The top series is called "Choshen" followed by "Reserve", "Yogev" and "Teva" series. "The Cave" is a small winery owned by Binyamina producing top two red wines.


The Tishbi family started to plant vineyards in 1882 in the Mount Carmel area near the town of Zichron Yaakov. In 1985, Jonathan Tishbi opened his own winery and the family produces around one million bottles annually. Top wines are labeled "Jonathan Tishbi Special Reserve" followed by "Estate" and "Tishbi" series.


Located in the Hefer Vally in the north of the Sharon region, Recanati winery was established in 2000. The top wine is "Special Reserve" followed by "Reserve", "Recanati" and  "Yasmin" series. Production – around one million bottles a year.


Located in the Upper Galilee, the winery produces currently about 900,000 bottles a year. Releases include the top Matatia label and the series "Single Vineyard", "Reserve", "Dalton" and "Canaan".


Domaine du Castel is a leading family estate founded by Eli Ben-Zaken in 1988. The winery and the vineyards are located in Ramat Raziel, west of Jerusalem, in the Judean Hills. The winery produces four wines - the first label "Grand vin", a great Bordeaux style blend, the second label "Petit Castel", "C" an elegant Chardonnay and a fruity rose'.


One of the best boutique wineries in Israel founded in 1989 and located near Hadera. Yair and Assaf Margalit, father and son, produce red wines of high complexity. Releases include "Special Reserve", Margalit and "Enigma" – a Bordolese blend.


A small excellent winery, owned by Carmel, near Tel Arad in the north-eastern Negev. The first label is "Yaar Yatir" (Yatir Forest) and the second – Yatir. The production is around 150,000 bottles a year.

Yair Kornblum

Yair Kornblum is an experienced Journalist working for Israel Broadcasting Authority. He is a specialist writer for Italian, Austrian and Israeli wine industry. He has recorded hundreds of radio programs and written articles about wine, both broadcasted and published. He is a Judge in international and national wine competitions). Yair was awarded the decoration of Cavaliere by the President of Italy. He is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers (UK) and of Paris-based FIJEV-editor



Joseph machado Says:

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Posted @ November 17, 2016 12:30


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