The SOMM Journal

April / May 2018

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Page 104 of 108

104 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2018 { thinking globally } THE ENTHUSIASM SURROUNDING winemaking in Israel is greater than ever before, and a cool crop of producers is showing how promising a career it can be. There has long been an export industry for the sacramental wine of the Holy Land, made by monasteries like Cremisan and Latroun and families such as the Shors, who started making wine in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1848. Then came Baron Edmond de Rothschild of Bordeaux fame, who wanted to establish Israel as a world-class wine region in the 1880s. The industry had just started to take off when the onset of World Wars I and II and America's Prohibition era kept Israel's commercial wine grounded. In the new country of Israel, large commercial wineries took shape according to Zionist principles and the agronomical idealism of kibbutz culture. Fast-forward to today, and wine is embedded in the traditions of modern-day Israel. Three former Prime Ministers—David Ben- Gurion, Levi Eshkol, and Ehud Olmert—worked at Carmel Winery as youths. Then in 1989, Dr. Yair Margalit, a physical chemist, opened Margalit Winery. Privately owned, it was the first of its kind crafting expressive wines in small quantities. Over the next three years, Eli Ben Zaken opened Domaine du Castel and Roni James founded Tzora Vineyards in the Judean Hills; both remain iconic wineries. Israelis who traveled to Europe, meanwhile, were tasting the good stuff and wanted in—prompting the boutique revolution. Today there are 70 commercial wineries and an estimated 300 boutique wineries in Israel—some so small that they exist in ga - rages and backyards. There is also high demand for wine education, as seen by the new enology degree program at Ariel University, the viticulture and enology program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and other courses like the Cellar Master cer tificate at Tel Hai College in the Galilee. Many top winemakers have honed their craft at wineries outside of Israel, and some have gained The Boutique Revolution The view from Galil Mountain Winery in the Upper Galilee, with Mt. Meron, Israel's second- highest peak, in the distance. A BRIEF HISTORY OF ISRAELI WINE AND ITS BRIGHT MODERN-DAY PRODUCERS story and photos by Sadie Flateman Dr. Shivi Drori (left) shows visitors the ancient gat, or winepress, outside Gvaot Winery in Samaria.

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