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 family-owned and boutique producers fulfilling the vision of the winemaker or the principal. The wineries in the Wines of Israel program are of all sizes from small to large, and represent all regions and varieties in Israel.
Winemaking in Israel virtually disappeared as a commercial enterprise from the 7th century until the mid 1800s, when Jews immigrating from Europe bought land, replanted vineyards and reestablished the wine industry. Many modern Israeli producers, including several in the Wines of Israel program, trace their roots back to this pre-state period. Other wineries were founded after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. But it was really the 1980s that saw the beginning of a quality revolution as new producers planted vineyards throughout the country, especially at higher elevations and in cooler climates, and brought new world winemaking techniques to Israel. The 1990s saw an explosion in boutique wineries founded by visionaries, some self-taught and homegrown, and others educated in winemaking abroad, especially in California. But all producers – whether recent start ups or grounded in modern history, small or large, family or corporate owned – share a passionate connection to the land, and a dedication to producing high quality wines in Israel again.