Holy wine and port

Many a visitor comes to Israel and thinks of the wine industry. Whatever your faith, it is often part of your tradition – something you may have grown up with. And the sign of the local tourism industry is a large bunch of grapes, as per in the bible.

The fact is that until about 25 years ago, the Israeli wine industry was a bit of a misnoma. Aside from the Carmel brand, nothing much was happening. A recent survey from Dun & Bradstreet reveals a very different picture. There are now about 30 major wineries, supported by around 200 boutique set ups. 15 % of all produce ends up abroad with sales up over 5% in 2011, although much still goes to the kosher market.

One of the younger companies is a particular favourite of mine, Adir. It is located in the north of the country, where the vines benefit from the terrain of the hills of the Galilee. One of their most interesting offers is also one of their more recent ones, a “port-like” vintage. It is only 17% proof, but it is one of the best so far to have emerged in Israel to date.

The visitor’s centre at Adir is small but tasty and fun. Aside from sampling “several” of the wines, you can taste their own dairy products made goats’ milk.  

As for the Israel wine sector as a whole, the country hosted two exhibitions within a month on the subject. 2011 was a bumper crop and output jumped. Connoisseurs constantly find themselves invited to yet more tastings. “France watch out” might be too strong a statement, but times have moved on.

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