Since the early days of the renewed settlement of the Land of Israel at the end of the nineteenth century, vineyards and wine production have occupied an important position in the country’s agricultural and industrial development. The few wineries which were established at the time served as a de facto base for strengthening Israel’s wine industry, which has reached new heights during the last decade. More than two hundred wineries of different sizes and rates of production are currently operating throughout Israel, from Dan to Eilat, from the Shefela region to Judah and Samaria.
The vineyards supplying the grapes for the wineries are planted on the site of vineyards from biblical and later periods when agriculture served as the central industry in the country’s economy. However, the grape varieties have traveled a long path of development and improvement since then, allowing Israeli wines to reach leading places in world wine contests.
The production process which is known to few, arouses curiosity and interest as to how the grape travels on its journey, from planting the vines, through the care of the clusters of grapes in the vineyard until picking, the grapes being pressed, the fermentation process and aging the wine in casks or earthenware vessels deep in cool cellars and dark caves. This is expressed in many quotations from the Bible and other ancient writings which have become enduring assets in the Hebrew language. The story of Noah who planted a vineyard immediately on leaving the ark: “Noah, the man of the earth, began and planted a vineyard” (Genesis 9).
The story of the spies which has become evidence of the abundant produce of the Land: “They arrived at the Valley of Eshkol, and cut from there a vine with one cluster of grapes, and they bore it on a double pole…” (Numbers 13). The place of the vine as one of the seven species with which the Land of Israel is blessed: “A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates; a land of oil-olives and date-honey” (Deuteronomy 8).
The prophet Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard: “My beloved had a vineyard in a fertile corner. He fenced it around and cleared it of stones; He planted it with choice shoots and built a tower inside it; He even hewed a wine vat in it…” (Isaiah 5). The vision of the prophet Amos, “Behold, days are coming says the Lord, when the plowman will meet the reaper, and the treader of grapes [will meet] the one who carries the seed… they will plant vineyards and drink their wine…” (Amos 9). The song of praise to the Creator which, among other things, also discusses wine, “And wine gladdens man’s heart, to make the face glow from oil…” (Psalms 104). Likewise, the words of the Sages which appear in the Talmud, such as: “There is joy only with meat and wine” (Pesahim 109); “Reish Lakish said, ‘This people is compared to a vine, its branches are the common people, its clusters are the scholars, its leaves are the ignorant, its tendrils are the empty ones of Israel’” (Hullin 92).
Wine even merited its own, unique blessing in the Jewish prayer book, “Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.”
These, and many other verses, indicate more than anything else, the importance of vines and wine throughout the Jewish people’s agricultural history from its origin until now.
With wine production serving as a significant source of interest to the wider public, wine tourism has gradually developed, focusing on visiting wineries, vineyards and the surrounding tourist sites. Many places have opened wine routes which attract visitors from around the world.
The rapid development of the wine industry in Israel has also brought a wave of wine lovers and other tourists who wish to experience the production process and taste the wines produced in various parts of the country. This connection between wine production and the wish to tour and visit sites in Israel has already been expressed far back in history, in the picture of the spies holding a pole, bearing a juicy bunch of grapes, between two of the them, the greatest testimony of the Land’s produce. This picture, which eventually became the symbol of Israel’s tourism, also serves as a base for the need to develop the wine routes of Israel.
The Ministry of Tourism, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Israel Grape and Wine Council, are working to promote the field of wine tourism in Israel. This includes the ministries approaching all the wineries they have listed, to receive data and include them in the project. The wineries which passed on the required information have been included in this website, and the information published on these pages was provided by the wineries, which are responsible for its accuracy.