The art of winemaking is thought to have begun somewhere in the triangle between the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Sea of Galilee. From there the vine travelled south through Phoenicia and Canaan to Egypt, which became the first great wine culture. The Egyptians particularly prized the wine of Canaan. So Canaan must have been one of the earliest countries to make wine ? and this was over 2,000 years before the vine reached Europe.
The Israelites? interest in winegrowing is a continual theme throughout the Bible and Talmud. Wine was seen as a symbol of happiness and out of all the books of the Bible, only the Book of Jonah contains no reference to it.
Of the seven species with which Eretz Israel was blessed, the vine was first amongst the fruits (Deut. 8:8).
The first mention of wine in the Bible is Noah, who built the ark to prepare for the flood. After the water subsided, he planted a vineyard and then got drunk on the resulting wine. (Genesis 9:20-21).
When in the Book of Numbers, Moses sent the spies to scout out the ?Promised Land?, they returned with a bunch of grapes, so large that it had to be carried on a pole, to illustrate that ?this was a land flowing with milk and honey?. This image has been used today as the logo of both Carmel Winery and the Israel Government Tourist Office.
Isaiah?s song about vineyards (Isa. 5) gives a detailed account of planting a vineyard through to the harvesting of its grapes. He likens God to an owner of a vineyard and Israel to the vineyard. Ezekiel (17:1-10; 19:10-14) also regards the vine as symbolizing the people of Israel and all the prophets use vines as a symbol of the happy state. The prophet Michah?s vision of peace on earth was ?? every man shall sit under his vine and fig tree and none shall make him afraid.?
Sixteen times the Bible mentions corn, wine and oil as representing the principle produce of the country, the base of the economy and chief blessing of the soil (Deut. 7:13).
There is no quality wine producing country in the present day that can boast such a rich history of wine production and wine culture as Israel. Almost everywhere, archeological finds have been unearthed in abundance. Coins, amphorae, wine presses, wine goblets all bear witness to a wine history, which continued unbroken until the Moslem conquest in 636 C.E.