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Wines of the Mideast

MAIN Wine Middle East Arrow to  Wines of IsraelIsrael


A view of the vineyards at the award-
winning Golan Heights Winery, Israel.

Boasting one of the oldest wine traditions on earth, grape vines in the Middle East were being cultivated as early as 4000 BC. Old Testament references, and Egyptian historical records, point to the use of grapes for wine making beginning around 2500 BC.

The golden age of winemaking in the region lasted until after the fall of the Roman Empire, when Islam forbid the use of alcohol and the great Middle East wine industry began to wither on the vine. Centuries would pass before wine making would make a comeback.

It was only in the late 19th century, as Jewish settlers began to gravitate toward Palestine that wines began to appear again. The establishment of the first wineries in the area, encouraged by Baron Edmund de Rothschild, began the rebirth of the wine industry in Israel.

The industry only began to grow in earnest in the 1970's, when interest in world class wines began to deepen. With Israel's vineyards and wineries now dotting the landscape, the sweet kosher wines that are associated with Jewish religious ceremonies are no longer the signature wines made today.

Dozens of boutique wineries, along with more than a dozen major wineries (producing millions of bottles annually) are helping to the country on the world wine map as Israel boasts 5 separate major wine regions.

These include the Galilee wine region (with the Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and Lower Galilee classified as subregions); Judean Hills wineries near Jerusalem; the Samson wine region, (where the first Israeli winery was founded); the Negev desert wine route newly opened in the 90's; and the Shomron wine region located near the Mediterranean coast and just south of Haifa.

More about Israel wineries around the Web:

 

Wines Israel - From reviews of many of the wineries and wine growing regions -- to related features articles on wine history and tourism -- this site offers up everything you ever wanted to know about the growing wine industry of Israel.

Israel Agriculture - Wineries - Links to the country's major wineries including Golan Heights, Carmel and Barkan Wine Cellars - leading to official sites, most presented in English and Hebrew.

 

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