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Understanding Wine From Israel

The background of winemaking within the Eastern Mediterranean goes back millennia but the modern Israeli industry has seen its peak over the past few years.

White wines have seen a dramatic improvement in their quality. Rhone variety and the hybrid varieties are pushing away from Cabernet blends. Indigenous grapes are beginning to see commercial successes.

The winemakers who have traveled abroad have returned with an open mind to experiments. This has led to an era of innovation has sprung up in this vibrant and diverse Mediterranean country. This will surely help Israel’s wine industry into to the end of. Here are some developments to keep an eye on.

White Wine

Seventy percent (70%) of the wine grapes that are grown within Israel are red and red, and with Cabernet Sauvignon leading the way. However, the desire for Israeli white wine in Israel and internationally is increasing.

“It’s like someone flipped an on and thought, ‘Wow we live in an extremely hot climate, and we should drink white wine cold”” Says Joshua Greenstein, an executive vice-president of the Israel Wine Producers Association trade group.

Freshness and acidity are crucial and the most excellent examples come from vineyards at high altitudes. Apart from Chardonnay as well as Sauvignon Blanc, there are exceptional examples of Gewurztraminer produced by producers such as Psagot, Jezreel, Tabor and Golan Heights Winery.

Whites with a Rhone style, such as Recanati’s Special Reserve white blend and Netofa’s Roussanne have also been gaining traction.
Rhone-Style Reds

“Mediterranean grape varieties will be the best for our climate and terroirs,” says Gil Shatsberg the executive vice president of Recanati. “Early maturing grapes that have the capacity to preserve natural acidity even in hot conditions are an advantage in making top-quality wines that go well to the local culinary traditions.”

It includes blends as well as bottlings made of varietals like Grenache Syrah, Grenache Mourvedre. The best examples of Syrah/Shiraz are from producers like Ramot Naftaly Winery, Pelter Winery, Binyamina Winery, Shiloh Winery and Tulip Winery Blends are a staple at Jezreel Valley Winery, Hayotzer and Dalton Winery.

Boutique Wineries

The four most prominent producers — Barkan Wine Cellars Carmel Winery, Teperberg Winery and Golan Heights Winery–are responsible for nearly 50% of Israel’s production of between 40 and 45 million bottles annually. In the last 1970s, there’s an increase in the number of proprietor-owned craft wineries that produce as much as 30,000 bottles per year.

The Dr. Yair Margalit, who created Margalit Winery in 1989, is believed to be the father of the Israeli small winery movement. The producers are focused in quality, quality of terroir, and expression. There’s also a lot of experimentation with the winemaking process, custom blends along with grape varietals.

Small-scale producers like Kishor Winery, Agur Winery, Shvo Vineyards, Alexander Winery, Ephod Winery, Nadiv Winery, Odem Mountain Winery and Gush Etzion Winery are racing to the top of Israel’s wine industry.

Vine in the Desert

One of the most dry wine regions on earth in Israel’s Negev (Hebrew meaning “dry”) first began producing grapes around 2500 years ago. They were cultivated by the Nabateans who were a nomadic tribe who constructed stone dams to redirect the occasional rains towards their vineyards. With more than 40 wineries. The dry region that is wedged between Egypt and Jordan can reach altitudes up to 2,950 feet. This provides cool nights that keep the acidity.

One of the top producers in the region can be found at Yatir Winery, founded in 2000 in a partnership with local farmers as well as Carmel Winery. Its red wines are surprising sparkling, given the topography of the vineyards and climate.

Another one that stands out is Midbar which is the Hebrew word that means “desert.” A winemaker Shachar Landman pulls incredible levels of freshness from the soil that is dry for his blends of white and red wine.

Native Grapes

Israeli winemakers have old indigenous varieties like Marawi, Bittuni, Jandali, Baladi and Dabouki, that were once thought to be extinct.

Recent discoveries by scientists like ElyashivDrori from Ariel University have led to their discovery and propagation. Cremisan Winery, on the frontier between Israel as well as in the West Bank, is one of the most prominent producers of wine made from indigenous grapes. Sales for these vino support those who support the Salesian Monks. The team responsible for winemaking is made by Italian monks, under the supervision direction of the consultant Riccardo Cotarella.

Ido Lewinsohn MW director of winemaking for Barkan Segal, also works with Marawi as well, and Teperberg Winery uses the native Dabouki grape for their Inspire White.

Experimentation

Following their compulsory military service, a large number of Israelis leave for an entire year prior to returning and start a new job.

Winemakers will find many things to learn about in Europe as well as Europe, the United States and Australia, and then return to Australia excited to try new fermentation methods or grapes.

Yehuda Nahar is the CEO and winemaker of Jezreel Winery, creates wine that is made from Argaman which is a cross between Souzao as well as Carignan.

Argaman meaning “crimson” to Hebrew is a wine that was developed by Israeli agriculturalists in order to create deep-colored wine. It is frequently added to blends that are cheap. But, Nahar and a few similar to them have created top-quality blends and wine bottlings using the grape.

In Segal, Lewinsohn has introduced techniques like whole-cluster and native yeast fermentation. While these methods represent the traditional method to make wine, they were pushed to the side since winemaking was a industrial process.

Vine with a Mission

Consumers are increasingly looking to patronize companies that contribute towards the local community. which is a trend that has not been ignored by the Israeli wine industry. Two outstanding wines can be found in Kishor and Tulip Both of them provide assistance to those with special needs.

Kishor can be found in Kibbutz Kishorit Community, which is for adults with special needs. The kibbutz’s members are employed all year round and a team of dedicated employees is brought in during the harvest season. Kishor’s tasting rooms feature bread and cheese produced by the community.

Tulip winery was established by the locals of Kfar Tikva, the “Village of Hope” where adults live who suffer from emotional and developmental disabilities. The residents are part of and work at the winery, primarily when it comes to harvesting and the marking the bottles. Both wineries make a variety of red and white wines.

Sustainability

The leader at the forefront is Golan Heights Winery. The vineyards were one of the very first vineyards in Israel to receive certification for sustainable wine-growing. Its cellars for barrels as well as the bottled wine warehouse , and bottling room are covered with solar panels. Winery officials claim that two thirds of its energy use comes from the sun.

Tabor Winery, under the direction of the general manager and head agronomist Michal Akerman. The winery has been working to restore wildlife to its vineyard , in order to restore the ecosystem through using sustainable cultivation techniques. The logo for the winery’s brand new design includes a barn owl that represents the return of many wild animals, and their importance to the quality of soil.