After being born in cosmopolitan Alexandria and educated in England, Italy and Switzerland, Eli Ben Zaken moved to Israel, first working in agriculture and then later in the restaurant business. Eli has no formal winemaking education, and so when he had to decide whether or not to turn Domaine du Castel from a hobby into a formal business he was faced with a formidable challenge. Eli recalls how a sentiment voiced by Winston Churchill was very apt at this time as he felt as though he "were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial … I was sure I should not fail." View all Domaine Du Castel Wines
About IsraelView a map of Israel wineries Israel
Quite possibly the region that wine was first drunk (or close to the region), Israel is not on the top of most lists for best wine regions. In fact, the conditions in the country are perfect for growing grapes, but reasons such as money, inexperience and apathy have kept the area from becoming a world-wide wine region. That said, Israel makes some top-notch wines and the amount of vine area continues to increase.
In the late 1800's, Baron Edmond de Rothschild gave a generous donation to wine making in Israel. He also sent over some French grapes, including Carignan, Chenin Blanc and Muscat. These grapes are found growing throughout the country. There are five main regions in Israel, the two best known being Galilee and Samaria. The region with the most wineries and wine potential is Galilee. Within Galilee lies Golan Heights, both a sub-region and a company. As a sub-region, Golan Heights has perfect altitude and soils to grow international varieties and the wines coming out of the region are excellent. As a company, Golan Heights exports the most wine out of Israel including Yarden, Gamla and Golan. Other notable producers include Recanati,Tishbi and Barkan. These producers are making wines that are dry, complex and high-quality.