Reviving a nearly extinct strain of grapes used in biblical winemaking, Recanati Winery has debuted a new wine made from ancient grapes, the culmination of years of effort of aimed at reviving biblical wine grapes that have long been lost in Israel.
Elyashiv Drori, an agricultural and oenological researcher, wanted to discover where the ancient wine grape varieties went.
According to Drori, he and his team hypothesized that when the Muslims regime took over in the seventh century, the wine vineyards were neglected.
“Later on, the Mamluk rulers prohibited wine production and cut down all the vineyards. Thus, people started growing only table grapes,” Drori further explained to Israel 21c. “Yet we believed that because of the strong resilience of the grapevine some would still be found in nature in the wild.”
To see if any wine grapes remained in the wild, Drori and his students collected the leaves of 480 wild grapevines. After analyzing DNA, they found 150 unique Israeli strains including 60 that were unknown to Israeli vinters.
Among them, they found a few varieties, including Marawi, that was good as both a table grape and for winemaking.
“Marawi is a tasty grape to eat but it also makes a very good wine similar to Chenin Blanc,” Drori said. “A few winemakers tasted it and decided they want to produce white wines with it.”
The biblical wine was recently center stage at the international Expo Milano at an event titled,”The Search for King David’s Wine.” The event, held last month, drew over 120 journalists and actors from around the world eager to taste the wine from Israel’s past.
According to Drori, the uniquely Israeli wine may also just be the beginning of historical wine discoveries that will shed more light on biblical times in new ways.
“A lot of remains of grape seeds have been found in archeological sites including the Temple Mount and City of David, Ashdod and Ashkelon,” Drori said. “Maybe we can identify what wine Jesus drank at the Last Supper.”