Golan Heights Winery [Image Source: Facebook]
The celebrated Jerusalem Wine Festival took place this past week at the Israel Museum. This year marked the 14th year since the festival was first held. The festival went from Monday – Thursday of this past week (August 6-10). The festival attracted thousands of wine drinkers from around Israel, in addition to participants from around the world. On my way out of the festival, I actually met an American who flew to Israel for the festival and told my friend and I that he was planning on bringing back a variety of wine from Israel to America.
“The festival marks 30 years of steady growth for the Israeli wine industry”, said Eli Poch, founder of the Jerusalem Wine Club and proprietor of the Kfar Hayayin Kosher Wine store at Kibbutz Kfar Etzion. “The wine industry, and not only in terms of numbers, but in terms of quality, has expanded so dramatically that we’re winning awards at virtually every competition we go to,” Poch told TPS ahead of the festival.
“For kosher and non-kosher wines, the Israeli industry benefits from four things: the size of our country, amount of rainfall, a culture of communication between winemakers, and our fast-growing wine regions of Harei (Mountains of) Judea and Samaria,” said Poch.
“For instance, Israel is so small and the different regions have radically different topography, from the burning hot Negev to the cold, snowy Golan Heights. That creates different soil qualities in different regions, which in turn gives each region’s grapes a unique quality and flavor. And the country is so small that within four hours you can get grapes from all the different areas and mix them together. There’s no other country in the world that can make that claim.
In addition, Israeli winemakers trained in virtually every other wine producing country in the world, but have managed to retain a unique aspect of local culture: collaboration.
“You’ll never have a French winemaker consult with an Italian winemaker on how to improve his product. (But here), they’re all talking about how to improve the other person’s wine and trading ideas back-and-forth. If one winery in Israel succeeds, we all succeed,” Poch added.
Currently, there are between 250 to 400 wineries in Israel, with five distinct wine-growing regions: Galilee, the Judean Hills, the Samson region, the Samaria region, and the Negev desert region. Israeli growers produce about 40 different wine grapes imported from 18 different countries around the world
Among the wineries that sampled and showcased their wines were Matar, Ramat Hagolan and Livni wineries. These 3 wineries are all located in Judea and the Golan Heights and despite the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement are producing wine to happy patrons in Israel and throughout the world.
Matar winery is located in Kibbutz Ein Zivan (Golan Heights) in the upper Galilee. Ramat Hagolan winery (Golan Heights) is located in Katzrin, an Israeli community referred to as the “capital of the Golan.” Katzrin has the largest Jewish population in the Golan Heights. Livni winery (Judea) is located in Moshav Carmel, an Israeli village in the south-east Mountain of Hebron area of Judea. Livni Winery has also supplied products for the Lev Haolam Surprise Monthly Package Project.
We look forward to wines from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights making their way to an even larger international base.
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