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January 20, 1984 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-01-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

24 Friday, January 20, 1984

Wine Consumption, Quality on Rise in Israel

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By MARY STEWART
KROSNEY

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BET DAGAN — Noah,
some scholars contend,
planted a vineyard soon
after he left the ark. During
later biblical times, the
growing of grapes and mak-
ing of wine were big busi-
ness in the Holy Land, say
archeologists, who have ex-
cavated ancient wine
presses all over the country.
After the fall of the Sec-
ond Temple, with the dis-
persion of the Jewish popu-
lation, viticulture in the

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area came to a standstill for
more than 2,000 years. Only
Crusader-established
monasteries continued to
produce wines during that
time. Recently, with Jewish
resettlement of the land of
Israel, wine production has
again become a serious in-
dustry here.
The Baron Edmond de
Rothschild, who sponsored
many Jewish settlements in
the Holy Land, imported
high-quality grape cul-
tivars (varieties) from
Europe in the 1880s, em-
ployed specialists in wine
production and built the
first wine cellars. These
wineries produced almost
exclusively sweet sacra-
mental wines, since Jewish
drinking habits have tradi-
tionally centered on wine
for holidays and other
ceremonial uses.
Today, the trend has
reversed with the prod-
uction of fine dry table
wines; not only are
the Israelis learning to
appreciate a good wine
with meals, but there is a
growing demand from
abroad as well, with Is-
rael's export trade in
wine having expanded
from $15,000 in 1948 to
almost $5,000,000 in 1981.
Winemakers here can
thank the country's scien-
tists for their efficient ap-
plication of agro-
technology. The result of
their efforts: high yields of
grapes which are turned
into tasty, aromatic, dry

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wines that are now appeal-
ing to more and more dis-
cerning wine drinkers in
various parts of the world.

After the modern state of
Israel was established in
1948, the first agricultural
commodity on its ag-
ronomists' agenda was
grapes. The search for ways
to grow larger yields of good
wine _grapes has brought
production up from two tons
per acre in the 1960s to 10
tons per acre today. High-
intensity farming — still an
experiment here — is show-
ing a remarkable 35 tons
per acre annually of table
grapes ( as opposed to wine
grapes).
These days, with the aid
of agricultural science and
better technology in
winemaking, Israeli wines,
particularly some of the
reds, compare favorably
with similar wines abroad.
The better red wines are
basically derived from the
Cabernet Sauvignon
grapes.
Israeli cellars produce
only two dry white wines,
both made from the
Sauvignon Blanc cul-
tivar. All the other white
wines, both made from
the Sauvignon Blanc cul-
tivar. All the other white
wines are semi-dry.
Wine connoisseurs in_ Is-
rael bemoan the country's
poor wine storage practices,
which many times make
local purchases a hit or miss
experience. On the other

hand, the wineries com-
plain that Israelis don't ap-
preciate their products
enough since the annual per
capita consumption here is
a mere 4.1 liters (as corn-
pared with 8 liters in the
U.S. and 96 liters in
France).
In an effort to increase
wine consumption in Israel
— and in conjunction with
the celebration of 100 years
of renewed winemaking in
the Holy Land — Carmel
Mizrachi, Israel's largest
single wine producer, con-
trolled directly by the grow-
ers, is initiating a special
campaign to educate Is-
raelis about the joys of
drinking a glass of fine wine
with a leisurely meal.

French Warning

WASHINGTON (ZINS)
— Haaretz correspondent
Uzi Benzimin says that the
U.S. used friendly terms in
its request to Israel to end
the blockade of Tripoli,
Lebanon so that PLO units
loyal to Yasir Arafat could
leave Lebanon.
Benzamin said that the
French, however, issued a
stern warning to Israel to
end the blockade. French
warships escorted the
Greek car ferries that re-
moved the terrorists from
Tripoli.

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