Fancy a glass of Israeli wine? Photo by Flash90.
Fancy a glass of Israeli wine? Photo by Flash90.

Local sommeliers have long been recommending an Israeli wine to go with dinner but a recent Agence France-Presse (AFP) article on Israel’s boutique wineries has caused the international community to take a closer look at the revolutionary tastes growing on the vines in the Galilee, Golan Heights, hills of Jerusalem, and even in the Arava desert.

The AFP international news agency story on Israeli boutique wines has been reprinted in Malaysia, China, South Africa, Bangladesh, the UK, Sweden and France.

The popular story  on this ”small country where each wine-producing region is more interesting than the last” has also been picked up by Yahoo!, MSN, AsiaOne and The Wall Street Journal.

“We are not copying the wines of Bordeaux or of Italy but creating a high-quality Israeli wine,” Gilad Flam, who runs the Flam winery with his brother, tells AFP. “We want to develop a taste among Israelis for good wine, so that they cannot do without it.”

Israel might be a small country but thanks to its varied topography, it also enjoys wide-ranging land for harvesting grapes.

French wine expert Marc Dworkin tells the AFP that Israel is “a small country where each wine-producing region is more interesting than the last.”

History tells that wine has been produced in Israel for over 3,000 years. But it’s Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, a French Jewish billionaire philanthropist, who is credited with planting the first major modern vineyard in Israel in 1882 – the Carmel Winery.

The boutique winery revolution took hold of Israel in the late 1990s and today there are over 350 small establishments – Kosher and not Kosher — selling fewer than 100,000 bottles a year.

“Wine culture has grown in Israel with the boutique wineries boom, so many Israelis decided to open their own,” Gabriel Geller, CEO of the Wine Mill, is quoted as saying. “It has also become a sort of trend among foreign investors and businessmen to own a winery.”

Israeli wines regularly win top international prizes. The Recanati Winery  in the Hefer Valley most recently won a spot on the coveted list of Top 100 Wines in Wine Spectator magazine.

And with the average consumption of wine per person in Israel at just six liters per year, it makes sense that the global wine-lovers’ market should know more about these prize-winning wines. After all, according to the WHO the French consume around 56 liters of wine per capita per year, Andorra 45 liters, Portugal 55 liters, Australia 36 liters, United Kingdom 33 liters, and Bangladesh 17 liters.

So, raise a glass and drink a l’chaim to Israeli wine!