Israel is fast becoming a beacon for wine lovers with over 250 different boutique wineries all over the country from the desert to the mountains the variety of soil provides winemakers with various challenges but also to consumers a variety of different of different palates to sample. The volanic soil in the Golan Heights in combination with the cool winters that sometimes bring snow after which the grapes yield an even amount of sugar between each crop has proved to be successful for wineries such as Odem Mountain, Golan Heights and Chateau Golan.
The roots of wine culture in the Holy Land date back to the Biblical period. There are so many Biblical references, Noah planted a vineyard after the flood, the 12 spies brought back grapes from the land of Canaan to show Moses the fruits of the Land and indeed grapes were mentioned as one of the seven species cultivated in the Holy Land, the list goes on to the writings where vineyards are mentioned in Psalms and the Song of Songs and of course in the famous story of Naboth the Jezreelite who owned a vineyard that was coveted by King Ahab who had him killed and Elijah famously said to him "you murdered and took possession". This tradition continued into the Byzantine period where stamps and seals of wine on amphorae exported from the ancient ports of Gaza and Jaffa have been found all over the Mediterranean.
Modern day viniculture in Israel was revived by Baron de Rothschild who after researching declared that grapes would be the most profitable crop to be cultivated by early pioneers and so vineyards were established near Rishon le Zion and Zichron Yaakov today the Carmel Winery and Tishbi Winery serve testament to these efforts. A lovely stroll through picturesque Zichron Yaakov combined with lunch and wine tasting is the absolute best way to spend a holiday! A winery visit is also the perfect rainy day alternative activity!
Some honourable mentions of wineries really using innovative methods of making the desert bloom are Yatir winery in Arad their Petit Verdot is worth trying as well as the Rose from Midbar winery . What is also very exciting are the wine festivals held throughout the year! In January the Sommelier event in Tel Aviv is the largest wine exhibition and in August the Israel Museum always puts on an amazing wine festival to coincide with the Jewish festival of Tu B'Av when Israelite girls would dress in white and dance in the vineyards to attract a future husband. It is definitely worthwhile combining a visit to Israel with this amazing event.