ISRAEL’S WINE INDUSTRY
Israel is a country the size of New Jersey or Wales. The wine industry is small compared with most other wine producing countries, but Israel has a very dynamic, quality driven wine industry.
There are 50,000 dunams (5,000 hectares/ 12,350 acres) of Israeli wine vineyards spread across five registered wine regions: Galilee, Shomron, Samson, Judean Hills and the Negev. The country’s most traditional vineyard area is in the Shomron region around the town of Zichron Ya’acov. The fastest growing regions are the Upper Galilee, Golan Heights, and the Judean Foothills/ Judean Hills regions. There are also vineyards in the desert.
The main grape varieties for quality wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz / Syrah, and Cabernet Franc amongst the reds and Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Viognier amongst the whites. There are no indigenous varieties, although Argaman, Muscat of Alexandria and Emerald Riesling come closest. There are also though some old vine vineyards of varieties like Carignan and Petite Sirah.
In total, Israel produces about 36 million bottles of wine.
There are over 200 wineries in Israel, many of them small domestic based garagistes. However there are 35 commercial wineries harvesting more than 50 metric tonnes a year.
The largest twenty wineries all produce wine that is certified as kosher. However this designation does not affect quality. Some of the best wineries in the country produce wines that happen also to be kosher.
Exports of Israeli wines have been steadily rising, particularly in the United States. Over 55% of Israeli wines are exported to North America and about 35% of Israeli wines go to Western Europe. The remainder go to Eastern & Central Europe and the Far East. The top five importers of Israeli wines are: 1. USA, 2. France, 3. UK, 4. Germany and 5. Canada. In America, the dominant market is the East Coast, particularly New York.
Third Party Recognition
Israeli wines are today receiving unprecedented third party recognition from wine critics like Robert Parker and Hugh Johnson, wine magazines such as the Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate and from competitions organized by likes of Decanter and Vin italy. Clearly the quality of Israeli wines is on an upswing.
For more information:
Michal Neeman, Business Development Manager, Food & Beverages