Wine Blog – Israeli Wine Initiative

By Jim Veal,

Having begun promotion of the Israeli Wine Industry from virtual zero almost three years ago, the efforts continue to pay off with a significant increase in the market presence of the Israeli Brand. Regional Houston distributor, Fleischer’s, who has taken on the entire Golan line of over 20 wines, and improved Yarden sales in Texas dramatically, with current sales over 4 times greater today than they were in 2009, continues to aggressively market their Israeli wines, and has recently featured Yarden wines in events such as the Bayou City Arts Festival in Houston where Yarden Mt. Hermon wines were served at an event attended by over 30,000 people. Fleischer’s hosted an Israeli Wine Event as a part of The Woodlands Wine & Food fair, which was completely sold out. This is a very popular large event with over 10,000 total attendees. United Distributors, the largest wine distributor in the Georgia area, completed an agreement to distribute Teperberg wines, and recently placed these wines in the largest wine megastores in Georgia, the Total Wine chain, which has over 75 huge stores across the country as well as Georgia. United is also in final negotiations with Ella Valley wines as well. Israeli wines, which before were always in a kosher section at the back of most stores, if there at all, are now being marketed under the Israeli banner for the first time ever. Educating the wine buying public about what “Kosher” actually means to the wine itself was an integral part of the process. In the past, whenever a wine writer would devote a column to Israeli wine, the majority of the article was spent explaining the Religious significance of the concept of Kosher, which is something the Jewish reader already knew, and the non-Jewish reader had no interest in! In practical reality, kosher simply means a cleaner, more pure way of making wine, without chemical additives, pesticides or fertilizers, thus a more “organic” style of production. Today, you will find fine Israeli Wines in fine dining restaurants, large wine bars, and liquor stores. One upscale store launched 16 Israeli wines at a tasting event, and has them at the front of the store under an Israel banner. The Tasting Room Group, which includes the two largest wine bars in the world, continues to expand their Israeli wine presence. The largest Israeli wine tasting event ever held took place in Houston in November 2010, and this even has served as a catalyst to heightened interest and sales in our market area into 2011 and beyond.

Last October, an Israeli wine from the Carmel Winery won the very prestigious Decanter Award in London. This past April, a chardonnay from Yarden won the Vinitaly competition in Verona, Italy. Competing with more than 3800 wines from around the world, this wine captured “Wine of the Year” honors as the very best in the entire show, as well as Winemaker and Winery of the year.

The Wine Industry in Israel is small and young, even though their soil is where the finest wines are being produced today, produced wine thousands of years ago. The future is very bright and exciting!