(photo credit: Courtesy)
Psagot Winery has been chosen by World Finance, a London-based publication, as Israel’s top wine producer for 2018, in its first annual wine competition that features the magazine’s list of the best brands from 14 of the top wine countries in the world.
While Israel has been enjoying a renaissance of wine culture throughout much of the 21st century, overcoming obstacles on the international front proves a meaningful victory for Psagot.
“Any time Israel can be recognized within the wine world is newsworthy,” Eli Sales, a managing partner who oversees the firm’s exports, told The Jerusalem Post
Pointing out that wine stores often display wines according to their countries, Sales notes the negative connotation Israeli wine often has abroad: “Israel is usually almost always automatically connected with ‘kosher’ and sweet syrupy wines like Manischewitz.”
Sales believes that winning this award signals that Israel is shedding this reputation and is emerging as a player in the international market.
The prize was awarded to Psagot as a wine producer, as opposed to honoring one specific wine from its collection.
Sales added: “It’s not just about the wine, they are checking the grapes, the quality of the land, the facilities, even the design of the labels.”
Anti-Israel boycotts also present a challenge for Israeli wines breaking into the international market.
Psagot Winery is located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank. Sales and the rest of the team at Psagot are not afraid to deal with backlash and bring their wine to the world: “We do not hide our location, and instead of avoiding countries involved in BDS we try to meet them head on, so we are in France and Belgium and starting to get into Germany and England. We do find challenges in these countries,” he said.
In fact, Psagot is currently in a legal battle with France: “We are the only Israeli company that is suing France for BDS,” Sales said.
Sales spoke of one victory over BDS: “Canada gave us a big fight last January when they banned us from their liquor stores, and we fought back, and within 48 hours they retracted their ban and restocked our wines in their stores.”
Yaakov Berg, CEO and founder of Psagot Winery, told the Post of the importance to him of this recent victory: “This is more than a surprise for us – it’s [the award] not just for us, this is for all of Israel. I think this is the first time such an important magazine chose Israel as a wine country and a winery, and especially with Israel’s 70th birthday, it’s really a big deal for us.
“I believe that wine is the best ambassador we have, wine represents history, culture and our connection to the land,” Berg said.