Israeli wines are unjustly among the lesser-known ones, as Israelis can produce top-quality wines. In Israel, it is possible to find five main regions where wines are grown. One of them is the Judean Hills, which include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron. Since I chose Jerusalem as my base for my stay in Israel, I tried to taste as many wines as possible from this area. Vineyards in Israel cover only 4.3 thousand hectares of land, which ranks them among the smallest in the world (for comparison: in the Czech Republic in 2020, the Agrarian Chamber recorded 18.5 thousand hectares of vineyards).
In Israel, of course, you will also come across kosher wine, which is wine that meets additional Jewish rules and can be drunk by Jews. A Jew must be involved in and oversee its production. For lot of people, the peculiarity may be “mevushal” wine, which is kosher wine that undergoes heat treatment.
Appelation Cabernet Sauvignon from Carmel Winery 2019
Dry red kosher wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Upper Galilee region. Aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. Carmel Winery has a specific position in Israeli winemaking – it was founded by Baron Rothschild in the 1890s. Rothschild brought vine cuttings directly from France to Israel. A bottle in the supermarket cost 60 shekels, which is approximately 16 EUR.
Capital from Zion Winery 2021
Zion Winery was founded in Jerusalem in 1848 by the Shor family, which is considered the first winemaking family in Israel. Currently, it is the 6th largest winery in Israel. Capital is the highest range of their wines, in this case, it is a merlot that aged for 12 months in oak barrels. The wine is, of course, kosher, and it cost 50 shekels, which is approximately 14 EUR.
Judea Land 2020
The third wine I tasted is a bit of a mystery to me in retrospect because I didn’t take a photo of the back of the label, and Vivino didn’t help much either (I’m not entirely sure about its link to one of the best Israeli wineries, Tzora). However, it was the best wine I have tasted in Israel so far, and the bottle cost 50 shekels, which is approximately 14 EUR.
Premium Cabernet Sauvignon from Jerusalem Winery 2018
The grapes for this kosher wine were harvested in the Jerusalem mountains, slowly fermented for 12 months on skins in stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. The 2018 harvest began ten days earlier than average, mainly due to warm weather. The conditions for the harvest were excellent, which, according to the winery, led to the creation of a complex wine. It is the only cooperative winery in Jerusalem. The bottle cost 50 shekels, which is approximately 14 EUR.
Drink responsibly and enjoy Israeli wines as well!