israel wines

Israeli Wine History

Wine has been produced in this region for thousands of years. However, the modern wine industry has started only in the late 1800’s with the help of Baron Edmond James de
Rothschild, who helped with the establishment of “Carmel Winery” which is one of the oldest and biggest Israeli wineries that still operates till this day.

As years passed, the industry grew, making a big leap during the 1980’s, and now having over 300 active wineries through Israel ranging from boutique wineries to big players such as Carmel Winery, Barkan, Golan
Heights winery, and Binyamina.

While the focus used to be on Kosher wines, that foucs has been changing. Wineries continue to produce Kosher wines, but a lot of smaller producers also produce a non-Kosher bottlings. There has been a drive to produce luxury wines for the world.

Alhough a small country, Israel has a surprising number of  wine regions. The six main regions are as follows:

Golan Heights

The coldest, highest area of Israel, located in the north-east of Israel, it spans between the Sea of Galilee to the Hermon Mountain, mostly volcanic soil, very suitable to grape varieties which
thrive in colder areas.

Galilee

Divided into the Northern Galilee and the Southern one, usually tends to be quite rainy regions, although there are some spots which are less rainy, is probably one of the most prevalent grape
growing regions in Israel and is located in the north, the soil varies from Clay to Terra-Rossa to volcanic.

The Judean Hills

The hills surrounding Jerusalem and slightly to the south, one of the most sought after regions, usually high elevated vineyards and being a cold area, the wine produced here has a great
feel to it, and it’s highly respected. Some of the vineyards are past the border to the Palestinian Authority which causes heated political debate in both Israel and the world at large.

Samson

Samson wine region is composed of the central coastal plain, Shefela and the gently undulating Judean Lowlands that lie just west of the more famous Judean Hills. Having a
Mediterranean climate, we’ll find more Mediterranean grapes here.

Shomron

The Shomron area is located just south of Haifa and spans slightly to the south, probably one of the most important modern wine regions in Israel, being the first area planted with the help of Baron
Rothschild.

The Negev

The southern part of Israel, a desert. Israel is a leading country in agriculture technology. The developer of drip irrigation planted vineyards right in the middle of the Negev desert
This is one of the most rapidly developing regions, producing wines that are seen nowhere else.

The Future of Israeli Wines

Despite its ancient origins, Israel is considered a “New World” wine country. It produces a vast variety of grapes, mostly grapes that were brought during the late 1800s, and “International” grapes varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah,  Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. In the past few years, as Israeli winemakers expanded their knowledge of fine wine production, many
wineries started leaning toward  Mediterranean grapes. If 20 years ago, it would have been hard to find a wine who’s not a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot, these days it’s possible to find
grape varieties such as Grenache, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Petite Sirah (Durif), Marselan, Mourvedre and more southern France oriented grapes.

As time goes by, the quality of the Israeli wine keeps improving, landing great scores in International markets as well. Want to learn more about Israeli wines? Check out our wine class on the subject: https://www.vinology.com/class/israeli-wines/