Discover a different Israel through her wineries and vineyards, and through the passion of the people who are crafting award-winning wines today. Enjoy vintage wines, gourmet foods, and gorgeous scenery, along with an ingredient unique to Israel – her millennia of wine producing history. Spend time experiencing Israel in a new way… as a Wine Connoisseur. Israel’s world-class wines are up for the challenge.
A Brief History of Winemaking in Israel
The Middle East & Eastern Mediterranean were the cradle of wine production. In fact, the ancient land of Canaan is one of the earliest countries to cultivate wine – over 2,000 years before the vine reached Europe. In recent years excavations have uncovered ancient presses and storage vessels that illustrate the fact that a well-developed and successful wine industry existed throughout the area. Grapes, grape clusters and vines were frequent motifs found on ancient coins and jars. Additionally, many wine presses and storage cisterns have been unearthed, from Mount Hermon to the Negev. Inscriptions and seals on the jars show that wine was a commercial commodity being shipped in goatskins or jugs from ports such as Dor, Ashkelon and Joppa (Jaffa). Other findings include the fact that the vineyards of Galilee and Judea, and wines named Sharon and Carmel from places like Gaza, Ashkelon and Lod were famous.
Wine Making Revolution in Israel
In the 1990’s, wine production which formerly had been typically 70% white and 30% red, changed to 60% red and 40%white, reflecting new taste trends. International wine makers and consultants arrived to improve the overall quality of the wine by helping decide which types of grapes to grow, where to plant the vines and how to craft world class wines. Growers invested in state-of-the-art equipment and modern techniques replaced less professional methods. It was during this time that wineries started popping up all over Israel. In fact, 85% of all operating wineries in Israel today were founded in the last decade!
There are currently over 25 commercial wineries and over 150 boutique wineries in Israel where wine making has become a personal obsession as wine makers strive to produce world-class wines. Even with this exciting surge in boutique ‘start ups’, the three largest wineries account for 75% of the annual harvest; the top five wineries total 84 % of the harvest; and the top eleven account for 95% of the total annual harvest.
Facts About the Wine Industry:
Hectares: 3,800 ha. (9,500 acres; 38, 000 dunams)
Harvest 2005: 45,483 tons
Wine Market in Israel: $175 million dollars (20% imports)
Consumption in Israel: 7 liters/person
2005 Export of Israeli Wines ($m): $13.8 million
Main Importers of Israeli Wines: 1. U.S.A; 2. France; 3. U.K.; 4. Germany; 5. Canada
Wine Regions in Israel
The ideal growing conditions for the cultivation of wine grapes lie in the two geographic strips between 30-50 degrees south and north of the equator. Israel is ideally situated in the Northern Hemisphere strip and like other ‘long’ countries such as Chile or Italy, enjoys a variety of microclimates. While the northern region gets a lot of rain and even snow in the winter, just a few hours away, Israel’s southern region is very arid with desert-like conditions. This range in microclimates supports many grape varieties, which can grow in several different types of soil, yielding excellent results. More than 90% of Israel’s vineyards lie in the Shomron, Samson & Galilee regions. The sub regions with the youngest vineyards are the Upper Galilee & the Judean Foothills.
The 5 Official Wine Regions of Israel:
Each one of Israel’s five wine growing regions awaits your exploration and looks forward to sharing its unique wines with you. And, as always in matters of taste, after you visit Israel’s wineries and vineyards it’s up to you to decide for yourself which is your favorite!