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The Changing Style of Israeli Wine

The winemaking tradition throughout the east of the Mediterranean dates back to the beginning of time, however, Israel’s modern business has been booming over the last few years.

White wines have seen a dramatic improvement in their quality. Rhone variety and the hybrid varieties are beginning to edge over Cabernet blends. Indigenous grapes are beginning to achieve commercial successes.

Winemakers who have traveled overseas have returned with an open mind to experiments. In the end, the wave of innovation has sprung up in this vibrant and diverse Mediterranean country. This will surely help the Israel wine industry into 2021. Here are some most important trends to be watching.

White Wine

Seventy percent (70%) of the wine grapes that are grown throughout Israel are red including Cabernet Sauvignon leading the way. But, the demand for Israeli white wine in Israel and internationally is on the rise.

“It’s like someone flipped the switch and thought, ‘Wow it’s an extremely hot place, we should really be drinking white wine cold”” declares Joshua Greenstein, an executive vice-president of the Israel Wine Producers Association trade group.

Acidity and freshness are the two main factors and the most excellent examples come from high-altitude vineyards. In addition to 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 gained traction.
Rhone-Style Reds

“Mediterranean grape varieties will be the best suited to our climate and terroirs,” says Gil Shatsberg who is executive vice president at Recanati. “Early maturing grapes that have the ability to keep natural acidity even in hot climates are an advantage in making high-quality wines that are ideally matched with our local food.”

This covers both blends and 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 – account for almost half of Israel’s production of between 40 and 45 million bottles annually. Since the late 1970s, there’s seen a steady increase in proprietor-owned craft wineries, that make as much as 30,000 bottles per year.

The Dr. Yair Margalit, who created Margalit Winery in 1989, is regarded as the founder of the Israeli small winery movement. The producers are focused upon quality, style, and expression. There’s also a lot of experimentation with the winemaking process, custom blends along with grape varietals.

Small-scale producers such as 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.

The Vines of the Desert

One of the most dry wine regions on earth in Israel’s Negev (Hebrew meaning “dry”) first began producing grapes around two thousand years ago. It was cultivated by the Nabateans the nomadic tribe who constructed stone dams to redirect the occasional rains towards their vineyards. With more than forty wineries. This dry area that lies between Egypt and Jordan has altitudes of up to 2,950 feet. This provides cool nights that keep the acidity.

One of the top producers in the region are 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.” The winemaker Shachar Landman wrings astonishing levels of freshness from dry soils in his blends of white and red wine.

Native Grapes

Israeli winemakers are cultivating traditional indigenous varieties such as Marawi, Bittuni, Jandali, Baladi and Dabouki, which were long believed to be extinct.

Recent discoveries made by researchers such as Elyashiv Drori 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 go to people who are Salesian Monks. The winemaking team is comprised by Italian monks, under the supervision guidance of the consultant Riccardo Cotarella.

Ido Lewinsohn MW Head winemaker for Barkan Segal, also works with Marawi as well, and Teperberg Winery uses the native Dabouki variety to make their Inspire White.


After their mandatory military service, a lot of Israelis leave for an entire year, before returning home and begin a new career.

If you’re interested in making wine, there’s many things to learn about in Europe as well as in the United States and Australia, and come back excited to try new techniques for fermentation or grapes.

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

Argaman meaning “crimson” from Hebrew it was invented by Israeli Agronomists to make an intensely colored wine often incorporated into blends with low cost. Yet, Nahar and a few similar to them have created premium blends and bottlings of varietals made from grapes.

In Segal, Lewinsohn has introduced methods such as whole-cluster or native-yeast fermentation. These methods are a part of the traditional method to make wine, they were pushed to the side since winemaking was a industrial process.

wines with a Mission

Consumers are increasingly looking to buy from companies that contribute in the communities they serve, which is a trend that has not been ignored by the Israeli wine industry. Two notable wines include Kishor and Tulip both of which provide assistance to those with special needs.

Kishor can be found in Kibbutz Kishorit Community, which is that caters to adults with special needs. Kibbutz members are employed throughout the year and a committed team is brought in during the harvest season. Kishor’s tasting rooms feature bread and cheese created by members of the community.

Tulip winery was established within Kfar Tikva, the “Village of Hope” where adults live who suffer from emotional and developmental disabilities. Residents are involved and participate in the winery, particularly during the harvesting and labeling the bottles. Both wineries produce a range of red and white wines.


In the forefront in the forefront is Golan Heights Winery. Its vineyards were among the first ones in Israel to be certified for sustainable wine-growing. Its cellars for barrels as well as the bottled wine storage facility and bottling hall are covered with solar panels. Winery officials claim that two-thirds its energy consumption 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 the vineyard to improve the ecology through using sustainable cultivation techniques. The new logo of the winery is a barn owl that represents the return of many wild animals and their significance to the quality of soil.