Founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (famous for the Bordeaux estate Chateau Lafite-Rothschild), Israel’s modern wine region includes hundreds of wineries stretching the length of the country. From Galil to the Judean Hills around Jerusalem, to Shimshon and the Negev, to the Sharon Plain just south of Haifa — large and small wineries are thriving in Israel and producing great wine.

Growing wine in Israel dates back thousands of years. In modern times, the most widely used varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Other varietals also grown in certain vineyards are Cabernet Franc, Gewurztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Riesling, and Syrah.

Grapes on a vine from a vineyard in Galilee.
Grapes on a vine from a vineyard in Galilee.

While wineries exist throughout the country, the greatest concentration of vineyards is northwest of Caesarea around the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. This area has been termed “Israel’s wine country.” Rows of grapevines cover the low mountains of the area, which is dotted with quaint towns comprised of family run bed and breakfasts, local artisans, delicious local cuisines, and interesting culture. Easily explored by car, Israeli’s wine country makes for a memorable experience travelling through this compact, Old World-inspired wine region. With beautiful views of the famous Sea of Galilee, the Mediterranean, and the low mountains that include the Golan Heights, this northern area of Israel is a great place to spend a few days. In addition to the robust high-quality wineries, this a fascinating region to explore including the modern town of Haifa, the famous Sea of Galilee, the well-preserved coastal town of Akko, the Golan Heights, and the Roman ruins of Ceasarea.

Driving through Israel's wine country.
Driving through Israel's wine country.

With dozens and dozens of boutique wineries throughout northern Israel, a wine connoisseur could explore the area for weeks and barely scratch the surface. Below are a few unique wineries to discover on your next trip to Israel.

Carmel

Craggy mountain hillsides, both warm and cool temperatures, mineral rich soil, and plenty of sunshine make this region ideal for growing wine. Baron Edmond James de Rothschild thought so as well, founding the Carmel Winery here. With sweeping views of the Mediterranean and Mount Carmel, this winery is unique in that it is the only Rothschild estate that is open to the public — both in Israel and France. Founded in 1882, it is the oldest modern winery in Israel and produces classic Old-World-style wines reminiscent of the great French wines.

Exploring where the barrels are stored at Carmel Winery.
Exploring where the barrels are stored at Carmel Winery.

Golan Heights Winery

Built on the site of a Mishnaic period agricultural village, the Golan Heights winery is the third largest winery in Israel. Located in a valley surrounded by the jagged peaks of the Heights, the winery offers visitors a wide range of wines, as well as a very informative tour of its grounds. With volcanic basaltic soil, suitable topography, and cool high-altitude climate, this area produces wines similar to those found in Bordeaux or Tuscany.

Golan Heights Winery.
Golan Heights Winery.
Filling the wine barrels at the Golan Heights Winery.
Filling the wine barrels at the Golan Heights Winery.

Margalit Winery

Founded by a chemist who became a winemaker, Margalit Winery is considered by many to have started the boutique winery trend in Israel. Specializing in Bordeaux blends, it produces a smaller number of high quality wines. The winery is tucked away in the rolling, fertile hills of the Upper Galilee. Close to the famous Roman ruins of Ceasarea, Margalit is a wonderful stop along the way to the impressive ancient site. It produces Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc varieties.

Looking out over the Sea of Galilee.
Looking out over the Sea of Galilee.

Getting There

National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures are a collection of unique tours designed to take you deeper into the cultures and habitats of the places we explore. They offer more inclusions, greater hands-on exploration, interactions with local experts, and the freedom to roam, all within the structure and security of travelling in a small group. Explore Israel today!