Despite being in a region that has a wine production history dating back 5,000 years, the area currently occupied by the state of Israel has not been recognized in modern times for its wines. In fact, the original plantations were destroyed during the various conflicts that have plagued the region throughout its history.
It was not until late last century that Israel began to regain its place in the productive wine market, establishing itself as one of the most attractive alternative industries, especially in the production of kosher wines, which—according to the Jewish religion—are suitable for consumption.
The northern regions of the country, such as the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee offer mountainous landscapes rising between 400 and 1,000 meters (1,600 and 3,200 feet). The terrain is optimal for growing cabernet, merlot, syrah, chardonnay and petit wines, among others.
The cold winters and hot summers—with marked temperature changes between night and day—allow the vines to develop in stable and prolific ways, as long as they are nurtured by artificial irrigation systems.
This natural suitability was identified by producers from around the world starting in the 1970s, as in the case of Mat Haruni, who in 1995 decided to settle in Israel and found one of today`s leading local wineries, Dalton Winery. The company has grown in such an impressive way that in 20 years its production has increased from 20,000 bottles a year to more than a million today.
Dalton Winery produces a variety of excellent kosher wines, like its multi-award winning Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Matured for 15 months in oak barrels and with malolactic fermentation, this premium cabernet of intense color is full-bodied, offering a complex flavor with hints of vanilla, tobacco, chocolate, eucalyptus freshness, and low acidity.
In recent vintages this wine has shown great personality and, in turn, it offers excellent aging in the bottle, which allows the buyer to save it for a few years before serving.
The key to the success of this family winery is the extreme care it devotes to the quality of the grapes, essential for the production of high-quality wines. Located in the Upper Galilee region, its vineyards are located between 800 and 900 meters (2,600 and 3,000 feet) above sea level on volcanic soils and provide optimal conditions for the cultivation of vines.
Also, being located near its vineyards, Dalton Winery has the advantage of choosing the exact time of collection in each of its plots. With extreme care and dedication, the company harvests—every year—varieties of cabernet, merlot, syrah, sauvignon blanc, zinfandel, and barbera.
Israel is slowly beginning to gain prominence in the international market thanks to its wines and labels like Dalton, which invite us to consider this Middle Eastern country when choosing high-quality wines for our personal cellars. ■