Wine lovers everywhere delight in sampling the regional offerings available wherever they go, and visitors to Israel are no exception. The terrain is challenging and the resources devoted to wine growing are relatively slim, but there is a whole lot to see and even more to taste.
An excellent place to start is Zichron Ya’akov (founded in 1882). It’s also a great place to spend a weekend of shopping, eating, and sipping wines from the famous Carmel Winery. Named in honor of Baron Edmond de Rothschild’s father, the town is not far from Haifa. Day trips to the town are a popular option, and it’s worth devoting a little extra time to exploring the area. If you go, check out the First Aliya Museum, which houses life-size model displays of the town’s original residents designed to illustrate what life was like for the first inhabitants.
The largest winery in the country, Carmel, produces more than 150 wines, and the 100-year-old vineyard complex has a great deal of fascinating history. There are 35 commercial wineries in Israel, and over 250 boutique wineries. The 10 largest wineries in the country, in terms of production volume, are Carmel, Barkan, Golan Heights, Binayamina Wine Cellar, Galil Mountain, Teperberg 1879, Tishbi, Tabor, Recanati and Dalton Winery. While there are hundreds of wineries and vintners, these represent the vast majority of production in the country.
Regional wines have garnered a certain amount of international critical approval. Robert Parker and Oz Clarke have praised the Israeli output, while Kim Marcus of Wine Spectator was less enthusiastic until quite recently. Check the scene out and make your mind up for yourself.