The Search for King David's Wine

The Search for King David's Wine

On October 18th 2015 the event “The search for King David’s wine”, in cooperation with the Israel Ministry of Tourism, took place. Approximately 120 people and dozens of journalists for daily newspapers and magazines attended the event.

After the initial greetings, Karine Bolton Laor - Department Director for International Cooperation and Conferences – introduced the new elected President for the KKL Milan Board, Sergio Castelbolognesi, who greeted the guests and talked about KKL-JNF activities, in particular about the support it provides to developing countries in order to solve their nutritional problems.

Avital Kotzer, General Manager for the Israel Ministry of Tourism, thanked KKL-JNF for their partnership talked about her love for nature; she described Israel as a magical land where unimaginable challenges are won, such as making wine in the middle of the desert. Many of the wines produced in Israel every year obtain international awards, and the local food too has a special flavor thanks to the mixture of ethnic groups, and different countries of origin of the Israeli population. Kotzer then showed a video about people who live in our wonderful country.

Afterwards, Professor Elyashiv Drori of Ariel University, an expert on Israeli vineyards, addressed the audience. He said that during at the time of King David3000 years ago, wine was very common and venerated until the Arab invasion of Israel in the 7th century. Because alcohol consumption is forbidden in Islam, the Islamic rulers prohibited the production of wine. From then on, there was no large scale wine production in Israel until 1870, when Baron Rothschild refreshed the sector by importing new and different types of grapes, in particular from France, such as the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot.

Prof. Elyashiv Drori is working to recreate the wine that was produced in King David's time, but his team needed to locate grape species that grew in ancient Israel.  Drori analyzed where the ancient populations used to make wine and he searched for various kinds of grapes. Most of these local species were strewn in wild and uncultivated areas. The next step in his research was the identification of grape species suitable for the production of the biblical wine, the real thing, in Israel.

Professor Ehud Weiss from Bar Ilan University described how he has identified the DNA of ancient grape seed found in ancient ceramic jars, and what he is doing to preserve the botanical heritage; the DNA he found had been damaged but has now been recreated thanks to 3D scanner devices, used also to identify wild grape.

In 200 B.C in Babylon there were two kinds of wine, called Gordali and Hardali, very similar to the species of Israeli indigenous grapes the team has obtained today: Jamdali and Hamdani.

The professors who cooperate in this research expressed their gratitude to KKL-JNF for supporting this project, and expressed their pride in strengthening the biblical identity of the resulting wine, obtained through the historical investigation and their finds.

The participants got the taste the results of this research, too. Ido Levinson from Recanati winery, which has began producing wines near Hebron from grapes like the Marawi and Hamdani, offered wine-tasting to the guests.

Actors Rosario Lisma and Anna Della Rosa delighted the audience with an expressive rendering of the ancient romantic poetry of the Song of Songs.

Andrèe Ruth Shammah, the welcoming host, thanked KKL-JNF for supporting such a special project and said: “I would like to promote this wine in my theatre: it’s something we can do also being far away from Israel, in order to preserve a precious heritage that belongs to everyone, like when we received the Torah in the desert, we’ve preserved and safeguarded it.”