Israel has gone through an unspeakable trauma. The Simchat Torah Massacre on October 7th 2023, was the worst single day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Over 1,300 people were slaughtered in cold blood in their beds, their safe rooms and their homes. Women were abused, families burnt alive, babies were beheaded. Revelers at a Peace Music Festival were mown down in their hundreds. The brutal, inhumane, animal behavior of the Hamas terrorists was considered more violent even than ISIS with levels of barbarity not seen in modern times. Over 220 people were kidnapped and taken hostage, including grandmothers in their eighties, toddlers and even babies. Over 3,000 people were injured. Every single Israeli knows someone killed, kidnapped or missing. The shock and pain has rocked the very foundations of Israeli society. Israelis are hurting like never before.
On that terrible day, Israel declared war in self defence. It was a war provoked by Hamas and a war they apparently wanted. The best of Israel’s young men have been called to Reserve Duty in the Israel Defence Forces. The wounded and traumatized survivors, innocent citizens, have been expelled from their homes in the Western Negev. Furthermore towns, villages and communities in the Upper Galilee have been evacuated as a precaution as the Iranian proxies, Hezbollah, continue to fire rockets and try to infiltrate on the northern border with Lebanon. 300,000 innocent Israelis are now homeless. Many left home only in the clothes they were wearing. They had to leave all possessions behind.
The effect on the economy is drastic. Apart from workers called up, many young parents have had to stay at home to look after children not going to school. Companies are on an emergency footing, with procedures in place whenever there are air raid sirens. The effect is nationwide. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have also been targeted. Many employees have been laid off.
The wine industry is suffering too. Vineyard work particularly in the Western Negev, Southern Coastal Plain and Upper Galilee has been disrupted. Apart from a lack of manpower, vineyard managers and growers are regularly banned from tending to their vines because of security restrictions. Those that are able to enter their vineyards are frequently interrupted by barrages of rockets fired by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. The harvest of the red wine grapes was barely completed despite all these difficulties. Wineries are on an emergency footing. Visitors’ Centers are closed. There is a lack of manpower for the reasons outlined.
Supermarket shelves are empty due to panic buying. Necessities like water, eggs and toilet paper are in short supply. As for wine, sales have crashed. As one would expect, no-one is interested in buying wine. It is the opposite of Covid, when more people bought wine to drink at home.
The problems are so great and the needs are obvious. Friends, supporters and Jewish communities abroad are urged to give in any way they can. Clothes, equipment, toys, food, money…the list is endless. Whatever you can do is gratefully received. Writing about wine is a futile exercise and wine in itself could not be more unimportant. However this is the bubble in which I operate in. It is a way I can contribute.
Therefore, I am asking importers, distributors and retailers of Israeli wine to step up and support Israel’s wine growers, winemakers and wineries. They need your immediate help. To wine lovers, connoisseurs and Jewish communities everywhere: Now is the time to put a bottle of Israeli wine on your table. Today. As I have explained, the 2023 harvest is in. The tanks are full as the new wines are being made. However the wine trade has crashed here. It is just one of many casualties of this catastrophic situation. Purchasing Israeli wine will help. Each and every bottle drunk or given as a gift will act as a small light amid the surrounding darkness and despair. Put Israel up front with a bottle of wine.
So my plea is please go into your local wine store and ask for an Israeli wine. Order a bottle in your local restaurant and if you a giving a gift, make it a bottle of Israeli wine. Each bottle counts. By doing this you will be saving the Israeli wine industry, being seen to support Israel, and you will have the satisfaction of doing something to help. Each individual bottle is a gesture of support and defiance.
Don’t think red or white; this is the time like no other to choose Blue and White.
The writer is a winery insider turned wine writer, who has advanced Israeli wines for 35 years. He is referred to as the English voice of Israeli wine and is the Wine Writer of the Jerusalem Post. www.adammontefiore.com