Although it has been producing wine since pre-biblical times, Israel today is regarded as a “New World” wine source. Israeli wines, once largely sweet and unsophisticated, are now predominantly elegant varietal wines with international appeal. Familiar grapes such as Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and others make excellent, contemporary Israeli wines.
Israel has a north-south growing axis, like that of Chile and California, which creates a large variety of microclimates. There are five main Israeli wine regions: from north to south they are Galilee, the largest and best-suited for viticulture; Shomron; Samson; the Judean Hills, adjacent to the city of Jerusalem; and Negev, a semiarid desert region.
Not all Israeli wines are kosher, but most are. For a wine to be considered kosher, strict viticultural and winemaking guidelines – regarding how the vines are planted and harvested, the tools used, who makes the wines and more – must be followed. Wines certified “kosher for Passover” are made under even stricter regulations. Careful reading of the label should confirm the wine’s kosher status.