Carmel Winery, based in Zichron Ya’acov and Rishon Le Zion, offers a perfect metaphor for how Israel is establishing itself on the cultural world stage.
Founded in 1882 by Edmond de Rothschild, Carmel is Israel’s largest winery, and the oldest still in operation. For many years, it produced wine chiefly for ceremonial purposes—fine vintages were out of the question. But starting in the late 1980s, Israeli demand for superior wines was clearly intensifying, and Carmel played an important part in that sea change.
The vintners at Carmel realized some time ago that trying to copy the techniques of Old World winemakers would not work here. Israel is a hot country, so they brought in wine experts from warm climates: California, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and Australia. Their chief winemaker today is Lior Lacser, who has worked in France (both Burgundy and Bordeaux) as well as in Australia.
Carmel now also has two small, state-of-the-art wineries producing small quantities of handcrafted wines: Kayoumi Winery in the Upper Galilee, and Yatir Winery in the northeastern Negev. Carmel Winery has won many international prizes, including the prestigious Decanter World Wine Award for its 2008 Kayoumi Single Vineyard Shiraz. It continues to wow wine experts with its old-vine Petite Syrah and Carignan, Mediterranean-style prestige blends, and more.
Carmel Winery operations. Photos courtesy Carmel Winery