People have been making wine in Israel for at least 5,000 years. Today there are over 300 wineries in six, main Israel wine regions.
Grapes are one of the seven blessed species mentioned in the Bible.
You can find ancient wine presses all over the country. Canaanite wine was exported to the Pharoahs and the Romans loved wine from Judea. There is a Biblical tale of Noah who cultivated a vineyard and got drunk after the flood!
With the Arab Islamic invasion in the 7th century, the wine industry was closed down and indigenous grape varieties were lost.
Winemaking was re-established after more than a thousand years with the return of Jewish settlements in the early 1800's. The past twenty years has seen a winemaking boom in Israel with boutique wineries cropping up like mushrooms.
Tiny Israel has six main regions cultivating wine grapes.
Each region grows wine grapes with its own 'terroir', its own unique character and aroma, resulting from differences in the soil, water, wind, altitude, climate and even the natural plants and animals of the region. Some of the wineries have their own vineyards, while others mix grapes brought form different regions.
Here are the wine regions from south to north, color coded on the map:
The heat, salinity and sandy soil of the Negev make it a difficult place to grow wine.
Drip irrigation has made grape growing possible. The successful Negev vineyards produce wine with distinctive aromas. In the desert there is intense radiation, and extreme differences in temperature between day and night. This often cause the grapes to ripen prematurely.
Some of the quality wineries in the Negev include:
The hills of Judea were covered with grape vines since the days of King David thousands of years ago.
Travelling in the steep slopes and narrow valleys is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds, especially in HaElla Valley, also known as 'Little Tuscany'.
Some of the quality wineries in the Shimshon area include:
There are some several wineries within 30 minutes north of Tel Aviv in the Sharon plain.
Some of the quality wineries in the Sharon include:
'Carmel' means 'vineyard of the Lord.' and the Carmel mountain range was historically rich with vineyards.
The region enjoys a temperate client, sea breezes, several deep streams and sediment-rich soil rich from the clifs and slopes facing the Mediterranean Sea.
In fact, Carmel Winery is the first modern winery founded in 1882 in Zichron Yaacov with the support of Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Carmel, produces 15 million bottles a year.
Some of the quality wineries in the Carmel regions include:
The green, lofty mountains of the Galilee, dotted with picturesque villages provide spectacular views, as well as the finest wines in Israel.
Most of the largest wineries have vineyards in the Galilee, as well as many boutique wineries.
Some of the quality wineries in the Galilee include:
The cool winters of the Golan Heights and the distinctive basaltic soil are excellent for growing grapes and have a good influence on the quality and aroma of the wines grown there.
There is one large winery, the Ramat Hagolan Winery and many famil boutique vineyards.
Find out about wine-tasting tours in Israel.
What To Do in Israel
Israel Wine Regions