FAST FACTS/ ISRAELI WINE (2018)

October 5, 2018
Information on Israeli wine more »

VINEYARDS

Israel is usually regarded as being part of the Middle East. It may be more accurately considered as being situated in the Eastern Mediterranean, a region also referred to as the Near East or ‘The Levant.’

CLIMATE:   Mainly Mediterranean. Long, hot dry summers; short wet winters; snow on higher ground. Semi-arid & desert conditions, in the Negev.

SOILS:    Volcanic in north; sandy red soils on coast & chalk & limestone on the hills.

HECTARES:   5,500 hectares (13,585 acres; 55,000 dunams).

HARVEST (METRIC TONS):  55,000      

VINTAGE:     August to end of October – (often begins late July & occasionally ends early November); Machine & hand harvested.

BEST VINTAGES: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016.

 

GRAPE VARIETIES

Israel’s traditional volume varieties, Carignan & Colombard, apart from some quality old vine Carignans, are usually only used in inexpensive blends. They are gradually being replaced by international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc. Shiraz is proving both popular & suitable for Israel’s climate. Bordeaux varieties have been most successful to date, yet Mediterranean varieties may be more suitable in the longer term. There is research & experimentation with local varieties.

VARIETIES – METRIC TONS %:

Cabernet Sauvignon 19%; Carignan 13%; Merlot 12%; Shiraz/ Syrah 7%; Petit Verdot 6%; Argaman 5%; Colombard 4%; Muscat of Alexandria 4%;  Chardonnay 3%; Petite Sirah 3%; Sauvignon Blanc  2%; Emerald Riesling 2%; Cabernet Franc 2%; Malbec 2%; Tempranillo 1%; Gewurztraminer1%, Viognier 1%.

LESS THAN 1%: Pinotage; Muscat Canelli; White Riesling; Pinot Noir; Semillon: Sangiovese; Tempranillo;  Barbera; Muscat Hamburg; Chenin Blanc; Zinfandel; Grenache; Nebbiolo.

LOCAL INTEREST:  Argaman, Baladi, Dabouki, Marawi / Hamdani, Jandali. 

 

WINERIES

The top 12 wineries account for over 95%. of the wine market.

NO. COMMERCIAL WINERIES:                          70

NO. BOUTIQUE WINERIES:                              250 +

KOSHER:

Wineries – 55% of Israeli wineries are Kosher; 45% Non-kosher.

Wines – 95% of Israeli wines are kosher.

 

LARGE WINERIES (More than 5 million bottles a year):

1.     Barkan – Segal,  Hulda

2.     Carmel Winery, Zichron Ya'acov, Alon Tavor, Ramat Dalton (Kayoumi), Tel Arad (Yatir)

3.      Teperberg Winery, Tzora

4.      Golan Heights Winery, Katzrin

 

MEDIUM SIZED WINERIES  (> 1 million bottles a year ):

5.    Arza – Hayotzer Winery, Mishor Adumim 

6.    Zion – 1848 Winery, Mishor Adumim

7.    Jerusalem Winery, Atarot

8.    Tabor Winery, Kfar Tabor 

9.     Binyamina Winery, Binyamina

10.   Recanati Winery, Emek Hefer

11.   Tishbi Winery, Binyamina

12.   Dalton Winery, Dalton

 

SMALLER WINERIES

Some of the more prominent of the smaller wineries are listed below:

North

GALILEE  & VALLEYS     Adir,  Jezreel Valley, Lueria, Naaman, Netofa, Ramat Naftaly, Shvo, Stern

GOLAN HEIGHTS     Assaf, Bazelet Hagolan, Chateau Golan, Odem Mountain, Ortal, Pelter – Matar

Coast

MT CARMEL    Amphorae, Bar-Maor, Margalit, Somek, Tulip – Maia, Vortman

SHARON PLAIN    Alexander, Benhaim, Lewinsohn, Vitkin

Center

JUDEAN FOOTHILLS    Agur, Bravdo, Clos de Gat, Flam, Ella Valley, Mony, Tzora

JUDEAN HILLS     Castel, Sea Horse, Tzuba

CENTRAL MOUINTAINS    Gush Etzion, Gvaot, Psagot, Shilo, Tura

South

NEGEV    Midbar, Nana, Ramat Negev, Yatir

 

ISRAELI  MARKET

WINE MARKET IN ISRAEL:      US$ 315 million annually

IMPORTS:    20%, mainly from 1. Italy; 2. Chile; 3. Argentina; 4. France; 5. Spain

CONSUMPTION:    5 liters a head

MARKET SHARE:   65% red; 15% white; 8% sparkling; 2% rose;11% sweet (moscato style, dessert & sacramental)

 

EXPORT

EXPORT OF ISRAELI WINES:  $ 50 m  (2001: $ 8.01 m.)

% OF TOTAL PRODUCTION:  20%

MAIN IMPORTERS OF ISRAELI WINES

1. U.S.A; 2. France; 3. U.K;  4. Canada; 5. Poland,  6. Germany; 7. Asia

EXPORT SALES

 55+ % of exports to North America; 35+ % to Western Europe. Remainder to more than 30 countries in 5 continents.

 

ISRAELI  WINERY RANKINGS

HUGH JOHNSON’S POCKET WINE BOOK

The number of stars given to Israeli wineries, in Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book, are listed below.

FOUR STARS:

Tzora Vineyards

THREE TO FOUR STARS:

Clos du Gat, Domaine du Castel, Margalit Winery, Sphera Winery, 

 

ISRAELI WINE SCORES

ROBERT PARKER’S WINE ADVOCATE

The highest scoring wines in Robert Parker's Wine Advocate are listed below.

94 POINTS

Clos du Gat Sycra Muscat 2006

Castel Grand Vin 2013

 

93 POINTS

Castel Grand Vin 2014

Castel Grand Vin 2008

Castel Grand Vin 2006

Flam Noble 2010                                                  

Margalit Cabernet Sauvignon Sp. Res. 2007 

Margalit Enigma 2006             

Yarden El Rom Cabernet Sauvignon 2003                  

Yatir Forest 2003 

 

JANCIS ROBINSON MW PURPLE PAGES   

The highest scoring wine by Jancis Robinson MW.  

18 POINTS

Sphera White Signature 2015                            

 

WINE REGIONS

HECTARES OF VINEYARDS BY REGION (%)

·       GALILEE 41% – mainly Upper Galilee & Golan Heights

·       SAMSON 27%  –  vineyards in central coastal plain, Judean Lowlands, Judean Foothills

·       SHOMRON 17% – southern Mt. Carmel – mainly in valleys around Zichron Ya’acov

·       JUDEAN HILLS 10% – Jerusalem mountains, Gush Etzion & Yatir Forest – southern Judean Hills

·       NEGEV 5% – mainly  Mitzpe Ramon

OFFICIAL WINE REGIONS

 

Region in Hebrew

Name in English

Vineyard Areas

Galil

Galilee

  • Upper Galilee
  • Lower Galilee
  • Golan Heights

Shomron

Samaria

  • Mt. Carmel
  • Sharon
  • Shomron Hills

Shimshon

Samson

  • Central Coastal
  • Judean Lowlands
  • Judean Foothills

Harey Yehuda

Judean Hills

  • Jerusalem
  • Gush Etzion
  • Yatir Forest

Hanegev

Negev

 

  • Central  Negev

 

Wine regions in bold type are registered with the TTB (USA) and the European Community.

 WINE TOURISM

There is a great deal of domestic and international wine tourism. Larger wineries are more likely to have visitors’ centers. Smaller wineries are more likely to be open on Shabbat- Saturdays.

The main wine routes are the Upper Galilee & Golan (north), Mount Carmel (northern coast) and the Judean Hills & Foothills regions (center). These days there are also wine routes in the Negev (south) and the Central Mountains too.

 

THIRD PARTY RECOMMENDATION

“The corner has clearly been turned qualitatively. Israel has a real wine industry that deserves consumer attention. There are attractive wines with typicity and some distinction….Many are classic and charming and the best will impress anyone.”  Mark Squires, Wine Advocate

“The…wines are getting better all the time and some of them are superb” Robert Parker, Business Week

“New vineyards with classic varieties and a focus on cool climate, high altitude regions has transformed Israeli wines, as has modern technology and internationally trained winemakers.”  Hugh Johnson, Pocket Wine Book

“Improvements in quality and consistency since the mid 1990’s have been remarkable.” Jancis Robinson MW, World Atlas of Wine

“The country’s entire wine industry has gained global recognition.” Tom Stevenson, Sotheby’s Wine Guide

"Israel is on track to make wines with a distinctive style and taste. Its an amazing turnaround for a nation that has been mostly overlooked in the world wine sweepstakes."  Kim Marcus, The Wine Spectator

“Israel’s best Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots are exceptional”  Andrew Jefford, Wine Magazine

Israel has developed a wine industry that will confound preconceptions.” Mark Squires, Wine Advocate  

 “Israel is a rising star of the wine world”  Oz Clarke, Wine

“Israel wine has been transformed in the last 20 years by producers who have imported wine expertise to go with their existing technological and agricultural prowess.” Hugh Johnson, Pocket Wine Book

 “In such a climate, tending vineyards and producing wine is an act of courage and of optimism. I have enormous admiration for the majority of Israel’s winemakers…. Surrounded by anger, dogma, devastation, deprivation, mutual suspicion and….politics, they offer the possibility of hope for a better future.” Tim Atkin MW, The Observer/ Off Licence News

“Once, recommendation of Israel wines was mostly of a sentimental nature. That is no longer necessary.” Frank Prial, New York Times 

“No-one should avoid wines simply because they have kosher certification. It seems generally irrelevant.”Wine Advocate

 

SOURCES

www.wines-israel.com

Israel Export Institute (Ministry of Trade & Industry.)

Israel Wine & Grapes Board (Ministry of Agriculture);

 

The Wine Route of Israel, Eliezer Sacks, Adam Montefiore (Cordinata)

Vineland, Ilan Nachum

Rogov’s Ultimate Guide To Israeli Wines, Daniel Rogov (Toby Press)

Wines of Israel, Eliezer Sacks, Adam Montefiore (Cordinata)

Wines of Israel, Israel Export Institute

The Bible of Israeli Wines, Michael Ben-Joseph (Modan)

The Book of New Israeli Food, Janna Gur (Al Ha’Shulchan)

 

Divine Vintage, Randall Hesketh & Joel Butler MW (Palgrave Macmillan)

Tasting The Past, Kevin Begos (Chapel Hills)

Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide No. 7, Robert Parker (Simon & Schuster)

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2013, Hugh Johnson (Mitchell Beazley)

The Oxford Companion To Wine, Jancis Robinson MW (Oxford)

 

The Vine & Wine in Archaeology of The Land of Israel, Prof. Amos Hadas (Kronenberg)

Drink & Be Merry, Michal Dayagi-Mendels (The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

Rogov’s Ultimate Guide To Kosher Wines, Daniel Rogov (Toby Press)

The Kosher Grapevine, Irving Langer (Gefen)

 

 

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