The revolution of Israeli wine over the last forty years has been one of Israel’s finest success stories. There have been steady developments each decade and as a result, Israeli wine has earned deep respect worldwide. It is frustrating that this has not yet been recognized here, because lately honors and awards are given for political kinship, rather than the old-fashioned concept of giving credit where it is due. It is high time the Israeli wine industry was recognized by the country itself. After all wine may not be our largest export, but it is Israel’s finest ambassador. As we celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary, I have named the people that made a difference and epitomized their era in this amazing story.
The first 35 years were the years of Carmel, the historic winery of Israel. The person that best represents this period is Elyakum Osthashinski who was CEO of SCV des Grandes Caves and Carmel Mizrahi for nearly thirty years from the early fifties. Previously he had been Mayor of Rishon Le Zion. This was a period in which Carmel Mizrahi was a monopoly. These were not great days of Carmel in terms of quality, but were in terms of dominance. Israeli wine did not have a great image, but times were different. Nevertheless, Carmel kept Israeli wine afloat through all the ups and downs of building the State. Osthashinski provided the stability and his high profile and longevity merited respect. Carmel’s greatest ever award would come far later, when the Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz won the International Trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2010.