- Title: JERUSALEM: KOSHER WINEMAKERS SEEK FOREIGN MARKETS.
- Date: 27th June 2004
- Summary: (L!3) ELLA VALLEY, JERUSALEM (RECENT) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. WIDE OF BOTTLES OF ELLA VALLEY WINE BOTTLES 2. VARIOUS OF ENGLISH AND HEBREW LABEL THAT READS 'ELLA VALLEY VINEYARDS- CABERNET SAUVIGNON" 3. ZOOM OUT TO WIDE OF VINEYARD HILLSIDE 4. PAN OF WINE VINEYARDS 5. VARIOUS OF GRAPE LEAVES 6. ISRAELI WINEMAKER DANNY VALERO LOOKING AT GRAPES 7. VALERO WALKING IN VINEYARD 8. (SOUNDBITE)(English) DANNY VALERO, ISRAELI WINEMAKER AND OWNER OF ELLA VALLEY VINEYARDS, SAYING: "Like in the market of the Far East, Japan they see in the kosher products they see an element of sterilization, cleanliness in the product. In the marketing point of view it helps us a lot." 9. VARIOUS OF 'ELLA' VALLEY WINE BARRELS 10. ORTHODOX JEWISH MAN WHO TOUCHES AND HANDLES ALL OF THE WINE-MAKING EQUIPMENT AND WINE AS IT IS BEING MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH JEWISH DIETARY LAW 11. VARIOUS OF MEN TASTING AND HANDLING WINE 12. (SOUNDBITE)(English) ELI BEN ZAKEN, ONE OF THE FIRST ISRAELIS TO PLANT A VINEYARD IN HIS BACK YARD IN THE LATE 1980S, SAYING "I don't think that people after tasting the wine, that I am not barbarian." 13. MEN TASTING WINE 14. BEN ZAKEN LOOKING AT WINE BOTTLES 15. ISRAELIS DRINKING ELLA VALLEY WINE Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 12th July 2004 13:00
- Location: JERUSALEM
- Country: Israel
- Reuters ID: LVAAM0VQ85C9Y823T82QZN0LUKLF
- Story Text: Israeli Kosher boutique winemakers seek foreign
An ancient wine press sits on a hill overlooking
vineyards planted just six years ago, testimony to the
deep-seated biblical heritage of Israeli wine. But that
wine, generally sweet, never really went down well on the
international market -- until recently when increasingly
affluent Israelis spending more time abroad, returned home
with a thirst for a more sophisticated product.
The Israeli wine revolution began in occupied territory.
The Golan Heights Winery, located on land Israel
captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, brought in
winemakers trained in California and France who raised
The stage was set for a plethora of boutique wineries
that have turned the stony landscape outside Jerusalem
verdant with vines.
At one of the newest wineries near the holy city,
Israeli winemaker Danny Valero surveys hundreds of
kilometres of winding vineyards from the ancient wine press
that appears on the label of his Ella Valley Vineyards wine.
It's not Bordeaux or the Napa Valley, but with its
moderate, sunny climate, mineral-diverse soil and high
technology, Israel has the potential to produce world-class
wines, said Valero.
Eli Ben Zaken, a former chicken farmer and restaurateur,
was one of the first Israelis to plant a vineyard in his
backyard in the late 1980s. He made his first wine in 1992
in an extension to his chicken coop.
Ben Zaken said he wanted to see if Israeli wine could
overcome its cloying, throat-burning notoriety and compete
with the best.
Two years ago, one of his wines was judged superior to
others from California, Australia and South Africa in a
blind taste test. Decanter, the wine magazine, has given three of his
ines best of the month. But selling abroad is
Ben Zaken's Domaine du Castel winery now produces 96,000
bottles of wine annually. One of the oldest and largest of
Israel's small wineries, it sells 20 percent of its
Ben Zaken ponders how to convince the world that it is
worth buying Israeli wine.
Altogether, Israel exports about five million of the 30
million bottles of wine it produces annually, much of that
from large wineries such as Golan.
Aspiring to increase exports, especially to Jewish
communities abroad, some Israeli winemakers like Ben Zaken
are going kosher. Domaine du Castel's first kosher white
will go on sale in 2005, the red a year later.
Ben Zaken, who acknowledges he was losing a lot of the
Jewish market world-wide, no longer handles the wine-making
equipment or touches the wine as it is being made. For that
he has hired an Orthodox Jew in accordance with Jewish
dietary law. For newcomers like the Ella winery,
starting out kosher meant delaying a harvest until the
fourth year after planting -- again in accordance with
Ella's first wines went on sale this year. Of the
90,000 bottles, half have been sold in the United States
and the winery is negotiating a deal in Asia.
Even countries without a large Jewish population are
"Like in the market of the Far East, Japan they see in
the kosher products they see an element of sterilization,
cleanliness in the product. In the marketing point of view
it helps us a lot.", Valero said.
Currently there is a glut of more than 120 Israeli
wineries, many of them small and most catering to a limited
local market where the average person consumes six litres
(1.4 gallons) of wine a year. But even that is changing.
"Israelis have been ending the phase of the art of
survival and moving into the art of living," said Ben Zaken.
Israeli wine has come a long way from the day Moses
sent 12 spies to explore the Promised Land and they
returned bearing a cluster of grapes that, according to
tradition, yielded enough wine for 40 years.
Ben Zaken hopes to one day convince the world that
although Israel is a small country they are good wine
producers and can provide quality wines at reasonable and
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