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The History of Israeli Wine

Have we always loved wine this much in Israel?

Wine has actually been part of our lives for thousands of years in Israel. Whether used in celebration, for religious ceremonial purposes, or as a part of our own human leisure, wine has definitely found itself a deep and big place in the heart of humanity.

wine in Israel- Israeli wine - monthly wine club

Most scientists and anthropologists believe wine may have been around in the world long before any written record of its use has been found, however it is in the Jewish Bible that wine is explicitly used first for religious and ritual purposes; and the Land of Israel sits at its center. Our first encounter with Israel in the Bible actually describes the land filled with huge vines and grapes, making it the perfect place for eventual Israeli winemaking!

Many of the later books of the Bible, including Prophets, describe the Israelite kings to have many wine cellars and vineyards, along with many passages using vines and grapes as imagery. Grapes are actually noted as one of the seven species special to the Land of Israel in the Bible. Throughout the country, archeologists have found wine presses used by the Israelites, in which grapes were crushed by foot before fermentation in dark caves. Wine was even safer to drink than contaminated water at times, and quickly became one of the main industries of the land!

So how have the ancient vines of Israel turned into the modern-day Israeli wine industry?

With the return of Jews to the holy land in the late 1800’s, the wine industry began to pick up again with the help of the French Baron Rothschild, who funded one of the biggest wineries Israel still has today: Carmel Winery. While Rothschild’s efforts helped to establish some of the biggest vineyards throughout Israel, the customers lacked the mature palettes of high-end wine, and mostly stuck to sweet ritual wine. Quantity was favored over good quality wine. Slowly, Carmel Winery began to expand its repertoire with a focus on drier wines with a range of grapes.

Carmel Winery

But it wasn’t until almost 100 years later, when wine-making experts from the Californian vineyards made their way to Israel to teach us about the latest wine technology, reinventing wine-making as Israel knew it to be. With the help of Californian Peter Stern, Israel came to learn new viticulture techniques, and helped begin Golan Heights Winery.

Afterwards, as the industry began booming once again, boutique wineries began opening up, as private wine-makers took center stage in making their own quality wines. Smaller wineries like Tishbi and Dalton opened their doors, expanding Israel’s reputation around the world for offering fine, Kosher wines. Soon, boutique wines became the newest trend in Israel, and even the bigger wineries branched off, specializing in different areas and grapes all over the country. With over 150 different types of grapes growing in the land of Israel, there is a whole lot of wine to make!

Today, Israel’s wine industry exports close to 30 million dollars’ worth of Kosher wine each year, and has over 300 up and running wineries throughout the country! Not only does Israeli Kosher wine have an audience among the many Jewish communities around the world, but in recent years, Israeli wine has risen to the top of the global wine connoisseur community as well. Elite wine tasters have begun featuring Israeli wines in their reviews, and Israeli wineries have been awarded recognition on the top lists of quality wine around the world.

With patience and persistence, Israel has made itself a global name in the winemaking world, producing quality, unique, and Kosher wines available to all!

1 Comment

Renate Jacobsohn
Renate Jacobsohn
Jul 04, 2022

Yeah, Israeli wine is breath taking. Thank you.

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