Israel is home to a growing wine & beer industry that are gradually gaining the attention and respect of the world. Over the last twenty years, the Israeli wine industry has grown tremendously. Today there are nearly 400 wineries in Israel – 35 commercial wineries and the remaining medium to boutique sized wineries. In 2011, Israeli wine exports totaled over $26.7 million.
Israel is the original “old world” wine region, in fact, wine has been produced in the land of Israel since Biblical times. Wine making is thought to have originated in the area between the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Sea of Galilee. The Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean was the cradle of the world’s wine culture thousands of years before the vine reached Europe. Ancient wine presses and wine making equipment are frequently found in archaeological digs in the region.
Israeli wine is produced in five regions: the Galilee (including the Golan Heights), Judean Hills, Samson region, Negev desert and the Sharon plain.
If you’re a wine-lover, don’t miss a chance to tour and taste these recommended wineries in Israel:
The modern Israeli wine industry was founded at the time of the First Aliyah in 1882 by the Baron de Rothschild, owner of the Bordeaux estate Château Lafite-Rothschild. Baron de Rothschild established the Carmel Winery, which is to this day the largest wine producer in Israel, producing 15 million bottles a year.
Located in Binyamina, Tishbi Winery is Israel’s sixth largest winery with production of about 1 million bottles of wine annually.
In 1882, the Tishbi family was commissioned by Baron Edmund de Rothschild to plant and develop vineyards in the area of Zichron Ya’akov. The actual Tishbi Winery was founded in 1984, following a severe crisis in the wine industry in Israel and drastic falling of grape prices.
Between the late 1990s and early 2000 there a great growth when retirees, farmers, and businessman decided they wanted to start their own boutique winery.
The number of boutique wineries in Israel, with total production ranging from 1,000 to 100,000 bottles annually, has increased dramatically since, and they are today the source of some of Israel’s highest quality wines, crafting wines that incorporate the unique characteristics of their terroir, reaching the highest international quality standards.
Yair Margalit – a chemist turned winemaker – is credited with starting the boutique winery trend in Israel when he founded Margalit Winery in 1989. The family-run venture located in the foothills of Mt. Carmel, specializes in red Bordeaux blends. Production grew gradually from 80 cases in 1989 vintage, to the current annual production of about 1,600 cases. The wines constantly reap praise from the world’s best wine experts.
Adir Winery is a family-owned and operated winery (it also owns a large goat dairy) that was founded in 2003 by Avi Rosenberg who is also its current winemaker. Benefiting from a perfect combination of fine lands and climatic conditions, Adir wines are well known for their superior quality and taste, gaining its position as an award winning Israeli winery and producing some of the country’s most outstanding series.
Odem Mountain (Har Odem) Winery is located at the north of the Golan Heights, at the height of 1,100 meters above sea level and in the heart of an oak forest.
Established by Idit and Michael Alfasi in 2003, the winery enjoys a unique climate and basalt ground that enriches the vines with minerals.
Har Odem wines are successful and generate prizes and recognition in Israel and globally.
Written by: Shirrah Friedman, Simply, Israel
Simply, Israel designs unique tour packages and personalized holiday arrangements for travelers who appreciate quality, worry-free travel.