In July 2018, Israel began its earliest harvest for many years. Today there are 250 wineries and many garagiste and domestic wineries in addition. There are also those winery brands that make their wines at other wineries. Today Israel produces 45 million bottles of wine and 10 million bottles of grape juice (from wine grapes.) The largest 12 producers control over 90% of the annual production. The wineries may be divided into broad categories of size.
MORE THAN 5 M. BOTS A YEAR
The largest wineries, or the big four, are Barkan, Carmel, Teperberg and the Golan Heights Winery. They each produce over five million bottles a year. Barkan is now undisputedly the largest winery in Israel, producing 10 million bottles of wine a year. It also markets the Segal brand from its winery in Hulda, which is situated alongside the largest vineyard in Israel. Barkan is owned by Tempo, the largest brewery in Israel. They represent brands of the stature of Heineken, Pepsi Cola and Chivas Regal and are the second largest beverage company in Isael. Carmel is the historic winery of Israel, founded by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1882. For over 100 years Carmel was a cooperative, SCV des Grandes Caves, that dominated Israeli wine. Since 2013, it has been owned by Kedma, a consortium of international investors. Carmel also own Yatir Winery. Teperberg is the largest family winery in Israel. The CEO is Moti Teperberg of the 5th generation. The winery was founded in 1870 in the Old City of Jerusalem. Golan Heights Winery (Katzrin, Golan Heights) is the winery that brought about the quality wine revolution in Israel. Founded in 1983, it brought new world winemaking techniques to Israel and since then has been the pioneering winery of the country. They also own Galil Mountain Winery.
BETWEEN 1.5 to 4 M. BOTS A YEAR
Tabor and Binyamina each produce roughly 2 million bottles a year of mainly table wines. Tabor Winery (Kfar Tabor, Lower Galilee) is owned by IBBLS, importers of Diageo, the largest spirits company in the world and Campari. They are part of the Central Bottling Group which market brands like Coca Cola, Carlsberg and Johnnie Walker and are the largest beverage group in Israel.
Binyamina Winery (from the town of Binyamina) is owned by the supermarket chain Hezi Hinam, also owners of food companies Vita and Pri Hagalil..
Arza, Zion and Jerusalem wineries are larger wineries, if the criteria is the harvesting of wine grapes. They produce between 3-4 million bottles a year, but a fair proportion of this is Kiddush wine and grape juice. In terms of the production of table wine they produce between 1.5 to 2.5 million bottles a year, and so are comfortably in the top 10 wineries in Israel. Arza (& their subsidiary Hayotzer Winery) and Zion (with their boutique 1848 Winery) are wineries owned by the Shor family and the seventh generation run them today from Mishor Adumim. Jerusalem Winery, the only one left in Jerusalem, is an off shoot of the Shor family, now privately owned.
APPROX 1 M. BOTS A YEAR
Tishbi, Recanati and Dalton Wineries produce roughly a million bottles a year. Tishbi Winery from Binyamina is a veteran wine growing family, who founded their winery in 1985. Recanati Winery (Emek Hefer) is owned by Leni Recanati, from the famous industrialist & philanthropist family, and the Shaked family of wine retailers and distributors, owners of ‘Derech Ha’Yayin’. Dalton Winery situated at Dalton in the Upper Galilee is owned by the Haruni family.
There are many boutique wineries in Israel. Many are winning awards and high scores. Judging by the critics that matter (Robert Parker, Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, Wine Spectator, Decanter etc), the finest of the smaller wineries are arguably Castel, Clos de Gat, Flam, Margalit, Tzora, Sphera and Yatir.
Most of the larger wineries in Israel produce kosher wine. The only winery in the top 20 that is a producer of non-kosher wines is Pelter, producing approximately 300,000 bottles a year, but they also produce kosher wines through their Matar label. Some of the most notable wineries producing non-kosher wines are Chateau Golan, Clos de Gat, Margalit, Sea Horse, Shvo and Sphera.
The first recorded winery opened in Israel was by the Ginio family in 1840. The oldest winemaking family still making wine is the Shor family. They founded their winery in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1848. Today the seventh generation is still making wine at Arza, Zion and Hacormim wineries respectively. Teperberg was founded in 1870. The first commercial winery was Carmel Mizrahi, founded in 1882. Binyamina and Segal wineries were founded in the 1950’s. The oldest winery still in use is Carmel’s Zichron Ya’acov Wine Cellars, founded in 1892.
The wineries mentioned cover every corner of Israel. There is a wine route in every region: the Golan Heights, Galilee, Mount Carmel, Judean Foothills, Judean Hills, Central Mountains & Negev.