The IPEVO have published their own ‘Land of Israel’ Wine Map, which divides Israel into 15 regions. These lie within the larger geographical areas of the Golan, Galilee, Coastal Plain, Central Mountains, Judea and Negev. It is not really a wine ‘region’ map as such, more a map of vineyard areas, because it does not outline the borders of the larger regions. However, it does itemize areas where the vineyards amount to more than 500 dunams (50 hectares.) The vineyard areas are therefore specific and not general.
Israel Professional Enology Viticulture Organization is a registered association, founded in 2012. Victor Schoenfeld, head winemaker of the Golan Heights Winery is the chairman. Winemakers and viticulturists meet together to share information and ideas, with the objective of advancing Israeli wine. This is a forum where the professional voice of Israeli wine may be heard.
Israel’s official wine map was compiled in 1974, well before the Israeli wine industry took its modern shape. It is hopelessly out of date and has never been changed to fit in with new realities. It divides Israel into five regions: Galilee, Shomron, Samson, Judean Hills and Negev. These are registered with the TTB in the USA and European Community. Exporting wineries still have to choose one of these for their export labels. The registered sub regions, include regions such as Nazareth and Hebron. Though these two regions are replete with Biblical and religious significance, their importance does not reach wine. Neither have any wine vineyards. That is how out of date it is.
The basis of the new map was first used by the Israel Export Institute in the brochure produced for the formal Master of Wine visit in 2018. The World Atlas of Wine also used the basis of the new map in the new edition published in 2019, and their map also outlines complete geographical regions rather than just vineyard areas. IPEVO’s new version, published in 2020, will now become the reference point.
Over many years, initially the Israel Wine Institute, and more recently the Israel Wine & Grapes Board, dominated by the large commercial wineries, have been unable to agree and approve an updated map of the regions. Now it is hoped that IPEVO and the authorities can agree on one map. This new map clearly fits the professional views of the winemakers. Now they and the authorities need to take into account the needs of exporters and the criteria acceptable to the TTB and EU. Obviously, the small winery and vineyard outside these fifteen regions, needs to know which region he is in. Then the new regions have to be registered. Judging by past experience, one should not expect miracles too soon…so the IPEVO version assumes greater importance. It is a very welcome step forward.