The world of wine in Israel, perhaps the oldest wine-producing region in the world, has always represented a sense of peace and goodwill, but has become collateral damage of the horrible atrocities that occurred on Shemini Atzeret (October 7th).
To raise awareness and in support of Israel and Israeli wineries, the Israeli Wine Producers Association (IWPA), a trade organization promoting Israeli wineries through wine education and events, is asking consumers to “Sip For Solidarity.”
The massacre has had an immediate, concrete impact, particularly on picking, sorting and winemaking teams. While the harvest had been mostly completed prior to the attacks, some of the harvest had yet to be completed. Moreover, there is still a lot of post-harvest work to be completed, including sorting, crushing, and more. While some of it has been done, it has been, in many cases, done under the constant threat of attack and bombardment.
For many wineries, production teams have been hollowed out as the young men and women who normally would be shepherding the crucial winemaking process have called up to help defend the nation. Beyond those called up to serve, there have been many foreign workers whose countries have brought them back to their home countries, fearing for their safety, further depleting the work force to ensure these wines will be produced.
“Winemaking has its own schedule, unlike other industries where you can pause production or run with limited staff. Grapes grow and ripen when they do; the winemaking process is very hands-on. Without staff, many wineries face an impending crisis.” said Joshua Greenstein, the vice-president of the IWPA. “Additionally, wine is usually something enjoyed when you go out to eat or to a party, and people in Israel aren’t feeling particularly celebratory these days. It’s catastrophic not just for this years’ sales, but for the vintages harvesting now that won’t be ready for sale for years to come.”
Coming off of a shemittah year that led to a drop in wine-production in Israel, as well as much of the lighter wines being consumed, there was already a need for production of white wines and rosé wines. Another challenge with which the wineries are dealing is that there have been a significant reduction of sales, as hundreds of thousands have been called up to serve and are not buying that wine. One such winery, Jezreel Valley Winery, has launched an initiative to support wine for soldiers for kiddush on Shabbat for the next few weeks.
Asked what people can do to help, Mr. Greenstein said, “Buy a bottle of Israeli wine. Not only will the purchase help the wineries, but we’re donating 10% of every case shipped from November 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023 to Israeli relief efforts. With the wine-consuming public’s support, these challenges are surmountable, and wineries will still craft wines that accurately and deliciously reflect the character of the vintage and of Israel, just as they always have.”
While you can shop at your local store for Israeli wines, you can also shop at KosherWine.com, which offers dozens of Israeli wines for purchase.