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Carmel Winery

The story of Carmel Winery is the story of Israel – the land of vision and realization, creating what it is today, from the void of the 19th century.

In 1882, the first Israeli colonists turned to Baron Edmond de Rothschild to request his assistance. Times were hard, and many of these people, who made their lives in Israel and saw themselves as it first pioneers, had become chronically unwell with a number failing to survive.

Baron Edmond de Rothschild, known during these times as the ” Benevolent Provider”, was the owner of the world famous Chateau Lafite Winery in Bordeaux.

Representatives of the Baron sent to Israel to assess the growing conditions, returned with favorable reports that the climate in Israel was similar to Bordeaux, and recommended planting vineyards for the production of wine.

The First Days of the Carmel Winery

In 1889, in accordance with instructions from the Baron de Rothschild, construction got under way at the winery in Rishon Lezion. By 1890, construction of the first section of the winery was already completed, and in August, the first grapes were harvested.

Construction of the Zichron Yaacov Winery got under way in 1891, its first harvest taking place the following year. The huge engineering project included excavation of six enormous underground cellars large wine cellars in Givat Zammarin.

In addition to the cellars, the winery also had its own well that used a sophisticated steam engine to pump fresh water to the winery. The pump, as well as a huge flour mill, was also placed at the disposal of the residents of Zichron Yaacov.

The first communities founded in the land of Israel, established by the immigrants who arrived as part of the first wave of Aliyah, were totally dependant on income from viticulture and wine produced in the vineyards.

Both the Rishon Lezion and Zichron Yaacov Wineries produced wine under the Ottoman rule, the British Mandate, and after the founding of the State of Israel. Also during the two World Wars, local unrest and all of Israel’s wars, the winery worked continuously, without a single break in production.

Significant Landmarks from the Early Years

Carmel Mizrahi or Carmel Winery

In 1896 a company was established to export Carmel wines throughout the  world. The winery’s first target was the city of Warsaw in Poland, where a subsidiary company was established under the name of Carmel.

The new company’s success led to the opening of new branches, initially in Odessa, Hamburg and New York. These were soon followed by other branches located in Berlin, Vienna, and London.

Simultaneously the Carmel Winery began to export wines throughout the Ottoman Empire; This subsidiary was given the title “Carmel Oriental”. In 2004  Carmel Mizrahi reverted to the Carmel Winery.

During their operational years, Carmel Oriental traded from branches in Jaffa, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beirut, Damascus, Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said as well as a number of other locations.

In 1906, the Wine Growers Association and the winery’s management was under the supervision of the association, which was adjacent to the settlemets that growing grapes for the wine.

The outbreak of World War One signaled a difficult time for the Jewish settlement and for the wineries. The international wine market fell into a period of disarray meaning that the Near East became a more important market for wine, with Carmel Mizrachi becoming a dominant force in the market.

In 1957 James Rothschild, son of the ” Benevolent Provider”, passed ownership of the winery to the Winegrowers Association. The Carmel winery grew, and its wines continued to accompany all the important events in the State of Israel.

Carmel Winery’s branch in Jaffo Street in Jerusalem. As was the practice at that time, the wines were transported in barrels and then bottled on site.

Carmel Winery’s branch in New York

From the Year 2000

Israel’s wine culture continued to develop and with it, the Carmel Winery. In the last decade, the winery has planted hundreds of acres of vineyards in the best growing regions in the country.

The Carmel Winery encompasses a wide diversity of vineyards and grape varieties throughout the country. This allows for the winery to choose grapes from every region – from the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights, Shomron and Jerusalem Hills, to the lowlands of the Negev. Carmel is continuingly striving for excellence and uncompromising quality.

The majority of Carmel’s most recent vineyards were planted in the Upper Galilee region, the source of most of the finest wines produced by the Carmel Winery.

Kayoumi vineyard near Meron Mountain in the Upper Galilee

From the year 2000, major investments took place in the Carmel Winery.

In the Zichron Yaacov winery, sophisticated, state-of the art equipment was installed, making it Carmel’s leading winery.

The winery in Zichron Yaacov integrates the old world and new world styles of wine making, with its historic buildings and underground cellars built in the time of the Baron Edmund de Rothschild.

The winery draws many visitors both from Israel and from overseas.

The Zichron Yaacov winery’s technological abilities have promoted the advancement of winemaking in Israel, which is now comparable to any of the world’s large wineries. In addition, a small winemaking department was established on the premises for the production of premium wines. This allows for the ability to retain the character and identity of each vineyard throughout the winemaking process.

In 2004, a new establishment in the Upper Galilee, called Kayoumi, was built for grape reception and processing. The building of this plant significantly shortened the traveling distance for the grapes after harvest, in turn, greatly improving the quality of the wines.

The winery in Zichron Yaacov; barrel room, entrance to one of the cellars and a tasting room.

In 2013, a private investor group acquired control of Carmel Winery, with the acquisition by led by the investment fund Kedma Capital. The group of investors includes international bodies with extensive experience in retail, consumer products, and real estate.

At the end of 2015, after nearly 130 years, Carmel’s oldest winery in Rishon Lezion was transferred to a new site covering an area of 35 acres in the Alon Tavor Industrial Park.

The Alon Tavor Winery houses the most extensive state-of-the-art logistics wine facility in Israel with the most up to date resources completed with an investment of 90 million shekels.

The new winery in Alon Tavor

Awards and commendations

The most historic Winery in the country is in the midst of a major resurgence, today producing a broad range of quality wines to cover the most comprehensive range of price levels, which have been the recipient of  many awards both in Israel and worldwide.

The most exciting award of the current decade came in 2010, at “the Oscars” of wine world.

Shiraz  Kayoumi vintage 2006 was the recipient of the International Trophy in the Decanter wine competition. Decanter is considered one of the most prestigious wine magazines in the world.

The Shiraz won first prize and received the World Trophy for red wine from the Rhone varieties category (costing over 10 pounds sterling).

A first prize for an Israeli Shiraz is a sensational achievement (according to the magazine), and amazing success of an Israeli wine, which topped off all the other wineries and wines in the world.

Baron Rothschild’s dream was realized

The Carmel Winery believe in high quality in all levels of production – aspiring to the tastes and demands of each and every sector of the market (including the grape juice and sacramental wines). This includes wines from the lowest to the highest premium labels.

Carmel prioritizes in pleasing all customers and in producing high quality wines at each level.

Lior Lacser – Head Winemaker

Majored at the CFPA in Beaune in France. Worked at wineries in both Burgundy and Bordeaux – Chateau le Bon & Pasteur Domaine Comte Armand. Worked with the renowned international wine consultant Michel Rolan, and also has experience working in the Margaret River region of Australia in Harman’s Ridge Estate.

Lior joined the Carmel Winery in 2003 and was appointed Head Winemaker in 2005.

The winemaking department has eight experienced winemakers under Lior, who each express their individual knowledge and proficiency in the wine making process and decision making.