New Beverage, Ancient Source: Pomegranate Wine

A third-generation Galilee farming family has created a ruby liquid as precious as the jewels who share its color: pomegranate wine.

Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 21:12

Gaby and Avi Nachmias began experimenting with the ancient crimson fruit 10 years ago, trying to engineer a pomegranate that would be deeper in color, sweeter in taste and richer in vitamins and antioxidants than the average fruit.

The father and son produced their first batch of dessert wine in 2003 and the 2,000-bottle limited run was so well received they built a commercial production line the following year which added a dry wine to the collection.

Moshav Kerem Ben Zimra is now the home of the Rimon Winery, where a pomegranate orchard produces the “super fruit” engineered by the Nachmias family for its crimson beverages. The moshav is less than a missile’s flight from Israel’s border with Lebanon, but despite several near misses, the Katyusha attacks launched by Hizbullah terrorists in the recent Lebanon war left the fruit untouched.

The Rimon Winery’s initial offering has blossomed into new offerings that include a dry wine, port (19% alcohol) and a rose wine in addition to its dessert wine. The company also produces cosmetics and vinegar made from the pomegranates.

Rimon Winery’s director of international marketing, Leo Open, told Israel21c progress in the international market is complicated. “Earlier this year, we started exporting to the Far East,” he said. “Getting a product known is a slow process, and there is plenty of bureaucracy and a long supply chain of importers and distributors to contend with.”

Pomegranates are high in powerful antioxidants – containing three times more polyphenols than red grapes -- that fight medical conditions such as certain types of cancer, various inflammations and cardiovascular diseases. The pomegranate is also high in vitamins A, B and C, as well as calcium and iron and is the only fruit known to contain estrogen.

Prices in Israel are similar to those of high quality grape wines, according to Open, who added the wines are expected to hit the U.S. markets by the end of this year. Prices in the U.S. will be somewhat higher, he said, due to distribution costs, but this should not affect the wine’s success as a niche product since it is a one-of-a-kind item.

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