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 as you never have previously, as a Wine Connoisseur. Israel’s world class wines are up for the challenge.
Brief History of Winemaking in Israel
The Middle East & Eastern Mediterranean was the cradle of wine production, and the ancient land of Canaan is in fact 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 indicate 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. Many wine presses and storage cisterns have been unearthed - from Mount Hermon to the Negev. Inscriptions and seals of wine jars illustrate that wine was a commercial commodity being shipped in goatskins or jugs from ports such as Dor, Ashkelon and Joppa (Jaffa). The vineyards of Galilee and Judea were mentioned back then; while wines with names such as Sharon and Carmel from places like Gaza, Ashkelon and Lod were famous.
Wine Making Revolution in Israel
In the 1990’s, wine production which had been typically 70 % white, 30% red, changed to 60% red, 40% white, to reflect new tastes. International wine makers and consultants arrived to improve the overall quality- dealing with 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 a proliferation of wineries took place 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 with wine makers striving to produce world class wines. This exciting surge in boutique ‘start ups’ notwithstanding, the three largest wineries account for 75 % of the annual harvest; the top 5 wineries total 84 % of the harvest, and the top 11 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 litters a head
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. Israel, like other 'long' countries such as Chile or Italy, enjoys a variety of microclimates. While the northern region gets much rain and even snow in the winter, just a few hours away, Israel's southern region is very arid with desert conditions. This range in microclimates supports many grape varieties, which can grow on several different types of soil, yielding excellent results. More than 90% of the 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:
- Judean Hills
Each one of Israel’s five wine growing regions awaits your exploration and looks forward to sharing its unique wines with you. As always in matters of taste, you must visit Israel’s wineries and vineyards and decide for yourself which is your favorite!