TEL AVIV — Israel’s wine industry is on the move and according to sources, much of the growth is coming from small and medium wineries. These wineries represent just 18 percent of Israeli wine sales (five big wineries account for the remaining 82% of the market), but many of the new wineries are in the small category. At the recent 2014 Sommelier exhibition in Tel Aviv, many wineries sought to attract attention from overseas buyers, clearly not necessarily focused on the kosher status of the wines.
In addition to wines, producers displayed a variety of related products including liquors, eau de vines (grappa) and alcoholic ciders. In 2013, Israeli wine exports had a record year, according to the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, reaching $34.7 million. That’s a 20% increase from 2012, and over an 80% increase from 2009.
“We are starting to get out of the kosher market, exporting to significant markets like Poland and Asia,” said Yaara Shimoni, the IEICI’s wine and fresh produce manager. Despite its new prominence on the world stage, Israeli winemakers agree that their kosher status initially catapulted their growth. Israelis began to consume more wines as did kosher consumers around the world, including a very robust market in the US.