Since time immemorial Israel has been a regional wine producer. During the days of the Roman Empire Israeli wines reached their export high point and then nearly vanished. Until the mid-1980’s the modern State of Israel’s wine industry focused on sweet or fortified sacramental wines, producing uneven, low quality daily wines. In 1984 a regional wine renaissance quietly began bringing about revolutionary change. Today, over 300 boutique wineries along with the large and well known Israeli wineries produce high quality white, red and rose wines in all price ranges. The Israeli wine industry has come into its own, surprising connoisseurs the world over with its superior wines.
But for all of its success abroad the industry remained sluggish at home, Israeli palates were slow to adjust to the change. During the mid-1990’s the wine industry went to work educating the Israeli public. Initially the industry which produces both Non-Kosher and Kosher certified wines held regional tastings and competitions which show-cased all of the wines irrespective of Kosher certification. The Israeli general public responded enthusiastically and today the local wine scene is as energetic as that of Europe, Latin America and the United States. Slowly, slowly all segments of the Israeli population have come around to expecting and enjoying excellent wines. Over the years the industry recognized that despite the fact that the tastes of the Observant Jewish community had changed, they were no longer satisfied with sweet or fortified sacramental wines, this segment of the population was reluctant to attend wine festivals in which non-Kosher wines were served along side Kosher ones. Another change was needed.
Three years ago A.A. Pyup, a large kosher wine store in Jerusalem’s Orthodox Sanhedria neighborhood sponsored the first annual “Wine Jerusalem” at Binyanei HaUma International Convention Center. The response exceeded all projections. In just three short years “Wine Jerusalem” has become the largest Kosher wine festival in the world. This year’s event held on 19 and 20 February is serving 160 Kosher wines from 40 different vineyards throughout the land.
Cheers for Israeli Kosher Wines. L’Chaim! To Life!
All photographs for this blog post are by Isa David-Ben-Rafael and are owned by IsraeLightly