Barkan was founded in 1990 in the Israeli village of Barkan, by Yair Lerner and Shmuel Boxer. Barkan immediately began to plant vineyards in and around Barkan, and quickly grew to become of the largest in Israel. In 2007, Barkan winery moved to a much larger, state of the art modern facility in Kibbutz Hulda. Located on a 50,000 square meter area, it includes a 12 million liter tank farm, an automated crushing and fermentation plant, and a 10000 square meter air conditioned filling and case storage building. Today Barkan receives grapes from vineyards from all the best regions in Israel; such as the Golan Heights, the Upper Galilee and the Lebanese border area, the lower Galilee and Tavor, the Jerusalem mountains, and Israel's south, around Mitzpe Ramon.
The winery's location allows the grapes to be quickly transported to the winery, to ensure freshness and to maximize quality. In addition, the strategic location was optimal for distribution of the bottled wine to market.
As the second largest winery in Israel, Barkan receives over 8000 tons of grapes during the harvest, and devotes nights and days throughout the year to ensure that the fruit received from the vineyard is the best possible. This devotion continues with all of the staff through harvest, winemaking, bottling, marketing and sales; all done to ensure that the bottle that you open will be the best that can be made. As well, Barkan’s head winemaker Ido Lewinsohn is a candidate for the Master of Wine diploma.
With a rich history of wine production dating back to biblical times, Israel is a part of the cradle of wine civilization. Here, wine was commonly used for religious ceremonies as well as for general consumption. During Roman times, it was a popular export, but during Islamic rule around 1300, production was virtually extinguished. The modern era of Israeli winemaking began in the late 19th century with help from Bordeaux’s Rothschild family. Accordingly, most grapes grown in Israel today are made from native French varieties. Indigenous varieties are all but extinct, though oenologists have made recent attempts to rediscover ancient varieties such as Marawi for commercial wine production.
In Israel’s Mediterranean climate, humidity and drought can be problematic, concentrating much of the country’s grape growing in the north near Galilee, Samaria near the coast and at higher elevations in the east. The most successful red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, while the best whites are made from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Many, though by no means all, Israeli wines are certified Kosher.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.