The Eastern Mediterranean is the cradle of viticulture, and Israel has made wine since biblical times. Wine played a significant role in the religion of the early Israelites with images of grape growing, harvesting and winemaking often being used to illustrate religious ideals. In Roman times, wine from Israel was exported to Rome with the most sought after wines being vintage dated with the name of the winemaker inscribed on the amphora. In the 7th century AD, the Islamic conquest of the Middle East virtually wiped out the region's wine industry.
Israel's modern wine industry came into being at the end of the 19th century, with Baron Edmond de Rothschild of Chateau Lafite in Bordeaux financing the planting of vineyards on the coastal plain near Rishon Letzion. Modern Israeli production is still heavily focused on French varietals.
Israeli wines are not cheap, and there are some very good reasons for that - agriculture in Israel is not subsidized as it is in many other countries, and all the materials for wine-making (other than grapes) are imported from Europe.