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December 26, 1980 - Image 33

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-12-26

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Zichron Yaakov and Rishon le-Trion


World Zionist Press Service

was said to be the first wine
maker in the Bible (Genesis
9:20-21). The spies of Moses
returned bearing a branch
with a cluster of grapes. The
Bible and its commentaries
provide good sources for
many types of information
on wine and prospective
wine makers could even
,ok to the Bible as a source
of learning if they wished to
duplicate wines like those of
ancient Palestine.
Vitaculture has not only
been of traditional interest
to Jews throughout the ages
but it has actually come
down into modern-day Is-
rael as a science and an art.
From the time of the
I \---Roman conquest until the
9th Century, however,
pine produ-ction was almost
nonexistent in Eretz Yis-
rael. The history of
modern-day Israel's
winemaking industry came
about quite accidentally.
In 1882, a group of
Romanian Jews bought
some land 20 miles south
to what is today Haifa
and began to establish a
settlement. At the same
time a group of Russian
Jews were establishing a
town nine miles south-
east of present-day Tel
Aviv. 'The first town be-
came Rishon le-Tzion; the
second, Zichron Yaakov.
Both groups were having
difficulties in their
pioneering efforts. The
Russian group" dis-
patched a member to
Europe who chanced. to
meet Baron Edmond de
Rothschild, the French
philanthropist. He
agreed to assist them.
On the basis of first-hand
reports, the baron realized
how similar the climate. and
soil of the Holy Land were to
his own vineyards in the
Bordeaux region. He sent
cuttings from his own vine-
yards to the towns, contrib-
uted funds to dig wells and
persuaded the pioneers to
shift to grape production.
In 1887, the first-crop was
harvested to the wine cel-
lars at Rishon. The wine cel-
lars of Zichron were in oper-
ation by 1892. This was the
beginning of today's Carmel
Amram Surasky is man-
ager of the Carmel Wine
Growers Cooperative in-
7ichron Yaakov. He came to
ae winery in 1959 while
studying food technology
engineering at the Techn-

The major difference
between Rishon and Zic=
hron is two-fold, he said.
Zichron farmers are not
speculators. The land
around here is for ag-
riculture and many far-
mers inherited the land
from their fathers and
grandfathers. Every year
there are more and more
grapes because the crop
grows from year to yeaf.
In Rishon there is less
and less from year to year
because the farmers are
selling the land for build-
Today Zichron produces
more wine, but more wine is
bottled in Rishon. Zichron
also only makes wines for
the Israeli market. Some
wines, brandies, and
liqueurs are made in
Rishon, which is also re-
sponsible for exporting.
Carmel wines are kosher.
What does this mean?
Kosher wine is based on
three conditions:
• Only Jews work in the
wine industry from the
crushing to bottling stages.
To make it "kosher mehed-
rin," all the workers touch-
ing it — crushing, ferment-
ing, filtering, aging and fil-
ling — are religious.
• Grapes must be kosher.
Normally three years are
required for vines to reach
grape-producing stage, In
Israel.new grapes have to be
brought to the winery only
during the fourth year of
growth so as not to injure
the plants' future fruit-
bearing capacity. The
supervisor) always knows
which vines are new and
which are to be harvested.
Before harvest time he gods
to the vineyards and tells
the farmers which grapes
are permissible to pick. If a
farmer harvests new grapes
before the mashgiakh tells
him, all the grapes are con-
sidered non-kosher.
• When the season is
finished, one percent of
the crop is thrown away,
as a symbolic tithe, dat-
ing from the time of the
Temple when one gave
part of one's income for
various purposes.
Grape production is big
business: 20,000-22,000
tons of grapes come in to
Zichron - every year;
14,000-15,000 come to
Rishon. Sixty percent is
used for wine and 20 percent
is press wine (skins and
seeds pressed not for the
wine industry but distilled
for alcohol to add to sweet
wines and for brandy).

Seven million bottles a
year are produced in Zic-
hron plus wine to fill six-to-
seven million bottles, which
is sent in bulk to Rishon for
filling there.
Since Zichron 'only pro-
duces for the Israeli market,
Surasky reports that the
best selling wines locally
are Carmel Hock (white
dry) and . Adom Atik (red
dry) of which two million
bottles each are sold per
Best selling wines ex-
ported are Chateau
Rishon Lavan (sweet
white); Sacramental
(red); Rose; Cabernet (red
dry); and Hock (dry
white). These wines are
exported primarily to the

Friday, December 26, 1980 33

Source of Israeli Wine

United States, Canada,
England and Sweden (the
top four) followed by the
Scandinavian countries,
France, Australia, Italy
and Holland.
In 1978-1979, $4 million
worth of Carmel wines were
How does the quality of
Israeli wine compare to
other wines of the world?
Surasky explains, "When
you talk about quality, you
have to consider prices. In
its own price range, the
quality of Carmel wines is
first in all the world."
Surasky personally consid-
ers the best quality Carmel
wines Sauvignon Selected,
Emerald Riesling (both
white), Cabernet Selected

(red), and Zichron 92. His
own favorite wines are Zic-
hron 92 (red) and French
Are Israelis very big on
wine drinking?
"Israeli people drink
more than world Jews
but you can't compare
them to France. When I
came to the winery in
1959, the average Israeli
comsumption was four
liters per year per capita
(approximately one gal-
lon). In France, it is 120
liters per year per capita.
Wine drinkers in the 50s
were North Africans and
Romanians. Now people
who drink are Israelis
who go out in to the world
and learn how to drink."

At lunch at Zichron
(where workers eat a hot
kosher meal prepared at
nearby Moshav Nir Etzion
but served in the Zichron
dining room), the workers
have one bottle of wine at a
table for six people. Surasky
says half a bottle is usually

t •

4141 11

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