In addition to adhering to Jewish dietary laws, Kosher wine producers in Israel must also follow ancient agricultural laws that date back to the Bible. These laws include a prohibition on using grapes from the vine for wine production during the first three years, known as Orlah, and only allowing the use of grapes for wine production in the fourth year. Additionally, the practice of growing other fruits between the vines, known as Kilai Ha’Kerem, is prohibited.
Every seventh year, the vineyards must be left fallow, known as Shmittah - Sabbatical year, to rest, though there are some flexibility in this practice as well. A small percentage of the production is poured away in remembrance of the “ten percent tithe” once paid to the Temple in Jerusalem, known as Terumot & Ma’aserot. These laws and practices were originally intended to address issues of spirituality versus materialism and are still maintained as a symbol today.
Upper Galilee & Golan Heights
In Biblical times, the concept of giving the land and its workers a sabbatical year (the 7th year) and reserving a portion of the harvest for those in need was a socially progressive idea. These practices were intended to address deep issues of spirituality and materialism. Today, while the laws and practices are still maintained, they are largely symbolic in nature.
Shomron / Mt. Carmel
Conditions According to:
- the laws of Orlah, fruit from the vine may not be used for winemaking during the first three years of the vine's growth. Only in the fourth year are wineries allowed to use the grapes for wine production.
- the laws of Kilai Ha’Kerem, the practice of growing other fruits between the vines is prohibited. This was a common practice in domestic vineyards in Spain and Italy in the past, but it has largely been abandoned due to its negative impact on wine quality.
- the laws of Shmittah - Sabbatical Year, every seventh year, the vineyards must be left fallow and allowed to rest. However, due to economic concerns, there are alternative solutions that are negotiated between Rabbis and wineries, which allows for a certain level of flexibility.
- the laws of Terumot & Ma’aserot, a small percentage of the wine production, typically over one percent, is poured away in remembrance of the “ten percent tithe” once paid to the Temple in Jerusalem.