Wine from the time of King David

December 10, 2015 Agencies
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The International Milan EXPO was the premier for the first Marawi wine – a grape variety which was used in the production of white wine during the biblical era.

wineThe wine was introduced during an event held by both KKL-JNF and the Israel Ministry of Tourism. A wine tasting, presented by Recanati Winery, was held during the event. Dr. Elyashiv Drori, from the Samaria and Jordan Rift regional R&D center and Ariel University with the support of KKL-JNF, conducted the research by locating the grapevines and manufacturing the wine.

Up until the creation of the Marawi wine, all wines produced by Israeli wineries were made from varieties imported from aboard (Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat etc.). Yet in earlier eras there has been a local wine industry based on Israeli grapevines. Following the Muslim Mameluke occupation and later with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, the production of wine was prohibited and the local species of grapevine had been abandoned causing it to almost go extinct.

Dr Drori checks the grapes

Dr Drori checks the grapes

Dr. Drori and his research students located grape varieties which managed to survive thousands of years of neglect. During his research Dr. Drori was joined by Professor Zohar Amar,Department of Land of Israel Studies at Bar Ilan University, investigated different sources from Biblical times, specifically the Mishnah and Talmud, and compared them to both Greek and Roman sources, publications by Palestinian research facilities and sources from Syria and Jordan in order to map the ancient grape varieties. During the next stage, professional tours were held in cooperation with KKL-JNF, and accompanied by KKL-JNF foresters. These tours are aimed to locate species which were mentioned in Biblical sources, as well as searching for ancient species of grapes that succeeded to survive.

The Marawi grapes in Dr. Drori’s research are now being produced for the first time by Recanati Winery. The Marawi specie survived throughout the years in thanks to its great taste. Vintners continued to grow Marawi and enjoy its grapes. However, over the years this specie became almost extinct. During the study, student Yaakov Henig was able to locate a Marawi vineyard site in the Judean Hills, south of Jerusalem. Recanati Winery, who joined the effort and decided to cooperate with the research, gathered the vineyard product, which was grown in partnership at a Palestinian vineyard (which is being kept in confidence due to the controversial nature of the partnership) near Bethlehem, and produced a number of barrels from which 2480 bottles were made.

A spokesperson for Dr Drori told J-Wire: “Currently we are working on identifying the wine produced by our ancestors during these times by analyzing the grape remains that we found from the time period of King David.  For example, ones that were discovered from the area of the Ofel on the Temple Mount.”

Ariel University is\ Israel’s newest and fastest growing institution of higher education.


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