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Europe: Despite 'Boycotts', Golan Heights Winery's Sales up 20%

Winery has been targeted by boycotters, but reports rapid growth in sales over last year; 'they don't care about pro-Palestinian groups.'
By Hezki Ezra, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 5/26/2014, 1:22 PM

Wine (illustrative)
Wine (illustrative)
Thinkstock

According to Arnon Harel, marketing manager of the Golan Heights Winery, despite all the talk of boycotts against products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, exports to Europe have in fact blossomed over the past year.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Harel commented "we are not the only innovators creating quality wine for (consumption) abroad. We invest a lot in export to the US, the Far East, and Europe."

"Despite the opposition and the attempts to boycott, that doesn't interest the European consumers that are looking for quality wine. There's a roughly 20% rise in sales in Europe; European customers don't care about pro-Palestinian organizations opposing wine from the Golan Heights," reported Harel.

The Golan Heights were liberated by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War from Syrian control.

The talk of boycotts heightened during recent peace talks, with US Secretary of State John Kerry threatening Israel with boycotts in February, after reports that he himself was orchestrating the European boycott threats. 

Just last week, European Union (EU) ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen attacked the so-called BDS movement which calls for boycotts against the Jewish state, but defended the financial "disengagement from settlements."

Innovating bubbling brut

Harel pointed out another trend, notably that customers are shifting to higher quality wines: "there's a transition by consumers to quality wines, even if the wine costs a little more money."

White wines can't be produced fast enough to keep up with the consumption, indicating a great demand which is also shared by "brut" sparkling wines, according to Harel.

"We at the Golan Heights Winery are preparing for the holiday of Shavuot, when the focus is on white and bubbling wines," he beamed.

"Just now in time for the holiday we've come out with a rose wine made from red Syrah grapes; the grape skin is soaked for a short amount of time, causing the wine to be pink," related Harel. "We're always short of white wines, and that's not because we produce less, but rather because of the high customer demand."

Never been better. Harvesting grapes for wine in the Golan Heights (illustrative) Flash 90

Harel remarked that his winery recently introduced an exclusive sparkling rose wine which is appropriate for unique events. "The demand comes from consumers who are looking for something interesting and prestigious," he said.

"Bubbling brut wine is another niche in the world of wines that we believe will develop in the coming years," concluded Harel.

The Golan Heights Winery is not the only one having to deal with the issue of European boycotts.

The Tura Winery, located in the Samaria village of Rehelim near Ariel, said in February it is responding to the boycott threats by ignoring Europe and concentrating on the American, Russian and Chinese markets.

Yaakov Berg, CEO of Psagot Winery, revealed in January that the international boycotts began precisely in Tel Aviv, where he reports that discrimination by Israelis against domestic produce from over the 1949 Armistice line preceded the international movements.