Historically the largest wine-growing regions were the Shomron and Samson regions. Today this remains true, but many of the interesting new developments are taking place in the Galilee and the Negev. The focus on new regions has mainly been on the initiative of individual wineries such as the Golan Heights Winery on the Golan Heights, Carmel at Ramat Arad, and Tishbi and Barkan in the desert.
Although Israel is not a member of the European Community, the country works in accordance with EC regulations, and according to the rules laid down by the B.A.T.F. in America.
Whether in reference to the meteorological stations on the Golan or the experiments in the desert, Israel’s reputation for farming technology and innovation comes to the fore in the country’s vineyards.
* Lower Galilee
* Upper Galilee
* Golan Heights
This area extends southwards from the Lebanese border and covers the north of Israel.
Most of the wineries use grapes from the Galilee for their First Label or Reserve Wines. This area has become Israel’s premier wine region, characterised by high altitudes, cool breezes from Mount Hermon, volcanic basalt and ‘tuff’ soil of the Golan, and unique microclimates in the Upper Galilee, where the soils are heavy and gravelly, but well drained. The northernmost vineyards of the Golan Heights are 1,200 metres above sea level, with snowfalls during the winter.
Dalton and the vineyards of Galil Mountain are located in the Upper Galilee, while Golan Heights Winery is on the Golan Heights. Carmel has extensive vineyards in the Galilee, while Segal (now Barkan) has also been planting in the area.
* Mt. Carmel
This is Israel’s largest wine growing region, benefiting from the Carmel Mountain Range and the closeness of the Mediterranean. The main concentration of vineyards is in the valleys surrounding the winery towns of Zichron Yaakov, which houses one of Carmel’s wineries and Tishbi winery, and Binyamina, home of Binyamina winery. Soils are medium-heavy and limey, and the climate is typically Mediterranean, with warm summers and cool, relatively humid winters.
The central coastal plain (Dan) and the rolling hills of the Judean Lowlands make up this region. Whereas the Galilee, Shomron and Judean Hills regions are historical places that have borne their names since biblical times, the Samson region is named after the well-known biblical hero, Samson.
The Dan sub-area occupies the coastal plains around Rishon Lezion and Rehovot; the second sub-area encompasses the rolling hills around Latrun and Adulam.
Many of Carmel and Barkan’s vineyards are in the Samson region; Carmel’s main winery is situated in Rishon Lezion and that of Segal Winery is in Ramle. The soils of this region are lime, stone, clay and loam with a coastal Mediterranean climate -- warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Judean Hills (Harey Yehuda)
This is a relatively underdeveloped wine region with cool nighttime temperatures on the hills. Many of the vineyards are grown on terraces or in narrow valleys. There are small areas of vineyards north of Jerusalem, with the region extending to Yatir, south of Hebron. The boutique winery Castel is situated at Ramat Raziel, and Efrat is located at Motza, near the entrance to Jerusalem. The soils are thin, limey and stony. The climate varies from arid to Mediterranean.
* Ramat Arad
* Southern Negev
A popular area for growing vines in ancient times, this semi-arid area has been planted with new vineyards in the northern Negev hills. It is a particularly dry area, relying solely on innovative computerised watering methods for irrigating the land. Situated 600 metres above sea level, there is a marked difference between day and night temperatures.
Carmel was the first of the bigger wineries to establish vineyards in the Negev, where they also have a boutique winery at Ramat Arad. Viable vineyards have been planted by Tishbi at Sde Boker and by Barkan at Mitzpe Ramon -- both in the Negev desert. Their success will be of great interest to wine producers in other hot countries. Soils are sandy to loamy (loess) and the climate is arid with hot, dry summers.
Source:Israel Export Institute