Marketing Israeli Wine to the American Masses

March 31, 2013 1:41 am 1 comment

Israeli wine bottles. Photo: Gilabrand/Wikimedia Commons.

Not long ago, kosher wine sales in America were dominated by wines from California, New York and France, but in the last decade wines from Israel have become dominant in the kosher wine sector.

Walk into almost any wine shop with a kosher section, and you will likely see a selection of mostly Israeli wines. Indeed, for many consumers, “Israeli wine” has become synonymous with “kosher wine”—and Joshua Greenstein wants to change that.

Greenstein is the youthful, energetic executive vice-president of the Israeli Wine Producers Association (www.iwpa.com), an organization formed last year whose goal is to become the voice of the Israeli wine industry in America. Descended from bootleggers, Greenstein is in the sixth generation of his family to work in the wine and liquor trade, and before helping to create the IWPA, he had worked for wine giants such as Gallo and Yellow Tail.

As the day-to-day head of the IWPA, Greenstein says that one of his major goals is to move Israeli wines out of the kosher wine aisle. “I go into a non-kosher restaurants and stores, I walk in and tell people, ‘These are wines from Israel’… and if the store has [its wines organized] by varietal, then I want the Israeli wines to be mixed in,” he says. “Why can’t Carmel Cabernet and Psagot Cabernet be in the Cabernet section?”

The IWPA was founded by the Royal Wine Corp., America’s largest importer of Israeli wines, and currently has 18 member wineries—all of which export wines to the U.S. through the Royal Wine Corp.—and pay dues to fund the IWPA’s activities.

IWPA member wineries are located in each of Israel’s wine-growing regions; collectively they for a representative sample of Israel’s entire Israeli wine industry. They include large wineries such as Carmel and Barkan, historic wineries such as Zion and Segal, new wineries such as Domaine Netofa and Psagot, and even boutique wineries with cult followings, such as Flam and Domaine du Castel.

What is significant about the IWPA is that IT is the first organization of its type in Israel to include so many wineries. (The only similar organization in Israel was Hand Crafted Wines of Israel, a short-lived marketing consortium of 10 wineries.) Greenstein believes that the IWPA has the potential to become an industry-wide organization “like Wines of Bordeaux or the Beaujolais Society.”

The fact that the IWPA was founded by the Royal Wine Corp. and is in part funded by them, however, has led some to question the IWPA’s commitment to promote Israeli wines outside Royal Wine’s portfolio. Greenstein is confident that more wineries will join, and says that he will promote all member wineries equally. Yet, when The Jewish Week contacted two Israeli wineries, whose wines are not imported by Royal Wine Corp., to inquire about the likeliness of their joining the IWPA, both said they were unlikely to become members. Even some of the members of IWPA expressed doubts as to the benefit of joining for wineries that do not export to the U.S. through the Royal Wine Corp. The IWPA has also failed thus far to garner any financial support from the Israeli government.

Joshua Greenstein, vice-president of the Israeli Wine Producers Association. Photo: New York Jewish Week.

But according to Jay Buchsbaum, the vice president for marketing and director of wine education at Royal Wine Corp., who spent more than eight years trying to create the IWPA, having the IWPA promote Israeli wine in general should boost the profile of each individual Israeli winery. He is particularly hopeful that the IWPA will help make the non-kosher wine world more aware of the quality and variety of Israeli wines.

If recent sales numbers are any indication, the IWPA is succeeding in its goals. “While overall sales of kosher wines went up significantly last year, the increase in sales for IWPA member wineries was more than double that of the kosher wine sector as a whole,” says Buchsbaum. “There has also been a significant increase in the amount of Israeli wine sold to non-kosher restaurants and retailers.” Buchsbaum also informed The Jewish Week that IWPA will be having its first general members meeting in Israel later this year.

Now that the IWPA has begun, Buchsbaum says, “It is in fact committed to being around, at least, for years to come.”

While the future growth of the IWPA remains unclear, its mere existence is a sign of how much the Israeli wine industry continues to grow—a sign that should cheer Israeli-wine fans everywhere.

Originally published by The Jewish Week and distributed with the permission of that newspaper.

1 Comment

  • The idea of the Israeli wine industry coming together to promote itself in the U.S. market is commendable. Unfortunately, Royal Wine Corp has been highly instrumental in preventing any such cooperation in the past, when the Israeli Export Institute had managed to secure a budget and had tried to get the Israeli wineries to cooperate in such an effort.
    Additionaly, the IWPA has been excluding any Israeli winery which is not imported into the market by Royal. Any other claim, at least to date, is simply deceiving.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    A Passover themed cover of hit songs Let It Go and Do You Want to Build a Snowman? from Disney’s Frozen has attracted tons of media buzz and a cool 65,ooo views on YouTube within days of going online. The work of Jewish a capella group Six13, the track is aptly named Chozen. We are celebrating “our freedom, our favorite festival, our fabulous fans, and aspiring Disney princesses everywhere” the group said. The Chozen music video tells the story of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.