Here, where the Fertile Crescent meets the Mediterranean, wine was produced 5000 years ago. Over millennia, it earned a reputation for quality, and was sent west in Canaanite Jars to ancient empires in Egypt, Greece, and Rome. For the local people it was essential to their livelihood and culture, even their health, and it became a sacred part of everyday life.
Today, in the same soil and under the same sun, internationally recognized and award-winning wines are once again being produced. Inspired by tradition, driven by innovation, a new generation of Israeli winemakers are combining global training with creativity and viticultural expertise, and causing wine lovers in modern empires to look east.
When they do, they will find that compressed within Israel’s narrow borders are the ideal conditions for a modern, growing, quality-driven wine industry: Extraordinary climatic and topographical diversity, with a variety of soils, elevations, and growing conditions that allow for the cultivation of dozens of grape varieties both international and local; the world’s most advanced agricultural and water management technology from the country known as the start-up nation; a youthful, diverse and cosmopolitan population supporting a thriving restaurant and food scene based on fresh and simple Mediterranean flavors and ingredients; but most of all, highly educated, passionate, and competitive winemakers and growers, driven to fulfill the promise of this fertile land and advance Israeli wine on the world stage.
Taste the warm sunlight and tempering breezes of Israel, where the Mediterranean begins.
In Israel, one feels that time is compressed. There is a strange combination of reverence for roots and a pioneering ‘anything goes’ spirit of creativity. In this thoroughly modern country where the latest cutting edge technology is applied both in the vineyard and the winery, the past doesn’t intrude on the present, it exists simultaneously right alongside – in the ancient wine presses and limestone storage caves buried within newly planted vineyards, in a 3000 year old indigenous vine cultivated in a beaker in a university lab, in a field lying fallow every seven years according to Biblical law and respect-for-the-land farming philosophy, in the cooperative community spirit of the people in the vineyard. The past doesn’t dictate, it inspires – it is a legacy to live up to and respect even as boundaries are challenged and the most modern learning and technology applied.
Israel has over 300 wineries, from tiny garagistes producing several hundred bottles a year to large commercial wineries producing millions of bottles of every variety and in every region. In between are numerous boutiques fulfilling the vision of the winemaker and the principal. The 27 wineries in the Wines of Israel program are of all sizes from small to large, and represent all regions and varieties in Israel.