News has broken about a further consolidation in Israel’s wine and spirits industry. Carmel Winery and Miki Wines are forming a new company called Baron Mishkeot (Baron Drinks) to import alcoholic drinks to Israel. Carmel is the historic winery of Israel, founded in 1882. Miki Wines is the importing arm of Yayin B’Ir (‘Wine in the town’), the largest wine and drinks shop chain in Israel. The new joint venture will be owned 60% by Carmel and 40% by Miki Wines. Presumably the imported products will be sold in Yayin B’ir’s nearly fifty wine shops and distributed by Carmel.
Carmel Winery is owned by an international and Israeli consortium led by Kedma Capital, who bought 64% of Agudat Hacormim (the wine growers cooperative) in 2013. Gilead Halevy is the chairman and Erez Paz is the CEO. Carmel is currently closing its famous Rishon Le Zion Wine Cellars, and has built in its place a new winery at Alon Tabor in the Jezreel Valley. It is also building a new office and distribution center at Shoham. It now has four wineries: Zichron Ya’acov Wine Cellars, Alon Tabor, Kayoumi at Ramat Dalton and its subsidiary Yatir Winery at Tel Arad.
Yayin B’Ir is owned by Amit Slovatik. They sell a mixture of Israeli wine and imported wine, and also spirits and beers, at very competitive prices. Some of the shops are wholly owned, but most are franchises.
This move follows a consolidation of the distribution of Israel’s wine trade. Barkan, Israel’s largest winery, is owned by Tempo, Israel’s largest brewery, who also represent or distribute the likes of Heineken, Pepsi Cola and the spirits of Pernod Ricard, the second largest spirits company in the world.
Tabor, Israel’s fifth largest winery is owned by IBBLS, importers and distributors of Diageo, the largest spirit company in the world. They are part of The Central Bottling Co, aka Coca Cola Israel. Alongside Tabor, they produce or market the global brands like Johnnie Walker, Carlsberg and Coca Cola. They are Israel’s largest beverage group.
This summer, the Golan Heights Winery, Israel’s third largest winery, joined forces with Shaked Bros., owners of the Derech Ha’Yayin (Wine Route) chain of wine shops, to form a joint distribution company. This company distributes the wines of the Yarden, Gamla, Galil Mountain, Recanati, Tzora, Trio, Avidan, alongside all Shaked’s imported wines.
Carmel over the years always produced brandies. It also produced other spirits. Some will remember 777 brandy, Vodka Stopka, Carmel Arak, Amadeus Liqueurs, Sabra etc etc. They were also importers. In 2005-06 Carmel decided to stop producing spirits and importing because it was thought they were not profitable. Now only 10 years later, they have decided again to go into the alcohol distribution and importing world, in order to compete with the others that have also embraced the total beverage concept.