For a long time, Israeli wines were destined chiefly for sacramental purposes: they were produced in mass quantities and sold in supermarkets. There was little impetus to compete with wine producers outside of Israel. For many decades, just surviving was challenge enough.
Today, Israel’s wines can stand up to some of the great European vintages. What brought about this radical transformation?
Adam Montefiore was a chief instrument in the change. An English transplant to Israel, Adam has overseen turnarounds at the Golan Heights Winery and the Carmel Winery, both of which have won major awards in international wine competitions. As he says:
If you compare where we were twenty years ago, and you think where we might be in twenty years’ time, it’s an absolute revolution that’s happening. There’s not one winery in Israel that’s not making better wine than it did ten years ago.
Adam comes from a venerable family of wine lovers. One ancestor was the nineteenth-century British financier and philanthropist Moses Montefiore. According to Adam, Sir Moses drank a bottle of wine every day (and, perhaps not incidentally, lived to the age of a hundred). Adam concludes that his own passion for wine comes to him naturally, through his genes. That family passion continues in the form of the Kerem Montefiore Winery, which is run by Adam’s children, David and Rachel.
Today Adam writes about wine and heads several oenological consortia in Israel—he continues to earn his title: the ambassador of Israeli wine.