Think Israeli wines and what first comes to mind? Probably a sickly sweet Manachevitz. But you'd be completely wrong, because Israel is noted for its very sophisticated viticulture. In fact, the renowned wine critic, Robert Parker, has given some very high marks to some Israeli wines.
One of my favorite sources of everything wine-wise in the country is the Israeli Wine Blog. You'll find plenty of information in the wineries, festivals, expos, wine tastings and much more. Another great information source I love is Rogov's Guide to Israeli Wines. This book is updated every year and is almost a bible for oenophiles. I picked up a copy when I was in Israel, though you can easily buy it through Amazon.
A more handson way to experience Israel's varied wine offerings is to attend the annual Israel Wine Festival held each summer at Jerusalem's Israel Museum in the unique Isamu Noguchi-designed sculpture garden.
During the evening, wine lovers sample vintages from at least 30 different Israeli wineries, wander among the illuminated works of Henry Moore, Roden and other sculptors, while listening to live jazz and nibbling on artisanal, cheeses, hummus and other delectables.
Of the country's 250-some producers, the Golan Heights Winery has been very influential to the country's new wine generation. It offers regular tours and tastings where you might be able to sample their award-winning Yarden Katzrin Chardonnay 2004.
The Ramot Naftali Winery is a boutique property that still harvests grapes by hand. Clearly the operation is on a much smaller, but it's no less noteworthy, scale. Located in the Upper Galilee and a half hour from the Golan Heights, this family-run winery is celebrated for its reds, such as its gold medal-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, that are all aged in French oak barrels.