making in Israel has a very long history. Some suspect that
the modern Vitis vinifera, originated in the Black Sea or the
Caucasia region. From there it was spread by traders to the
between 6,000 BC and 3,000 BC grape vines were introduced to
the area that is modern day Israel. It wasn't until sometime
between 1000 BC and 500 BC, that the vines reached the shores
and it was even later, 300 BC and 500 AD, when the Romans took
wine northward, to the rest of Europe.
been used in Passover
observations and references to wine in the Bible are easy to
find. One of the first things Noah did after leaving the Ark
was plant a vineyard.
and much of modern day Israel was conquered by the Arabs, the
area stopped producing wines. Many wine historians consider
this a good thing, since the wines produced in the region were
very similar to the sweet, cloying drinks that many still associate
with Kosher wines
today. This hiatus in wine making prepared the ground for the
rebirth of the modern Israeli wine industry.
the 20th century
In the early
1880s, Baron Edmond De Rothschild helped Eastern European settlers
plant French rootstock near Rishon Le Zion, and later in Zichron
Ya'acov, south of Haifa. Wines from these transplanted vines
and vintners were marketed under the Carmel label and won a
gold medal at the 1900 Paris World's Fair.
brought new life to the area's wine industry until the overseas
markets disappeared. The revolution in Russia and the beginning
of Prohibition in the USA in the early 1900s ended much of the
exporting. Vineyards were plowed under and replaced with cypress
groves. Most of what remained of the Israeli wine industry concentrated
on producing sweet Kosher wines that were consumed at religious
events and avoided by wine drinkers at any other time.
In 2012, Jerusalem hosts its first ever Kosher Wine Festival.
As the Israelis
settled into the modern state of Israel, they focused on raising
food crops and other marketable produce and no serious wine
drinker counted Israel as a world power when it came to good
wine. This changed when the "new" areas of the US
entered the world arena with wines that were profitable. Young
Israelis and settlers from other countries brought their taste
for fine wines back into Israel and began experimenting with
producing wines that could compete in the world markets.
past quarter century, the wine producers of Israel have raised
their standards to world-class levels. There are now more than
120 wineries producing thousands of wines annually. The wines
of Israel range from light white to dry red and sweet rosé.
Israeli wines worldwide
Israeli wines are exported to more than 37 countries. The Carmel Winery is once again producing award winning wines and has 55 percent of the Israeli market and about 70 percent of the export market.
Don't wait for Passover to sample some of the latest offerings. One author raves about The Domaine Du Castel winery in the Judean Hills whose wines "are to be compared to the best of French vintages in the same class. Their Grand Vin made with Cabernet Sauvignon, merlot and a little Petit Verdot was almost divine."
Daniel Rogov in another article says, "Meron Wineries has consistently given the market excellent Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons; the kibbutz-owned Tzora Winery is now producing noteworthy Cabernet Sauvignons and Sauvignon Blancs; the winery of Ya'ir Margalit has produced what many consider the most individual and among the very best Cabernet Sauvignon wines of the nation; and Eli Ben Zaken is now producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignons."
Israeli wines, while still Kosher, have changed enough to make their presence felt on the world wine scene.