Galilee, located in northern Israel, includes the Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and Lower Galilee regions. While Israel has several different wine-producing regions, Galilee is traditionally viewed as the one region most suited to high-quality winemaking, due to its higher elevation, cool breezes, and distinct temperature differences between day and night.
Wine, of course, has been produced in Israel since biblical times. Israel was located on a famous winemaking route connecting Mesopotamia and Egypt, and wine plays an important role in the Jewish religion. However, the modern Israeli wine industry dates back only to the end of the 19th century, when Baron Edmond James de Rothschild of the Bordeaux estate Château Lafite-Rothschild played a crucial role in introducing French grape varietals to Israel.
The most popular grape varietals in Galilee include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. In terms of aging potential, Cabernet Sauvignon is generally considered to be among the very best that Israel produces.
Within Galilee, the Golan Heights stands out as a center of winemaking. This area includes the highest elevations for vineyards, and extends from the Sea of Galilee to Mt. Hermon. There are 7 different Israeli wineries within the Golan Heights, including Château Golan and Golan Heights Winery (which produces popular brands such as Yarden, Gamla and Golan).
Starting in the 1990s, Israeli wines have started to acquire an international reputation for their quality. Wine experts have started to write up these wines, and wines from premier producers in Israel have started to pick up international acclaim and awards.