Close Menu

MW reveals horrors wreaked by Hamas on Israeli wine trade

From murder to kidnapping – and no-one to harvest – the full impact of the Hamas attack on Israel’s wine trade is becoming evident as Israeli MW Eran Pick tells db of “very difficult times”.

Pick, who is the winemaker for Tzora Vineyards high in the Judean Hills, and Israel’s first Master of Wine, told db this week about some of the shocking events that have occurred in his native country in October, and how they have affected the drinks industry.

According to Pick, among those in the wine trade affected by Hamas has been Mika, who owns and runs a winery by the same name in the Golan, who has lost her brother in the Hamas attack on 7 October.

Meanwhile, Daniel Lifshitz, who is the owner of Bourgogne Crown – an importer of fine wines to Israel – has had his grandparents taken hostage by Hamas, although his grandmother has since been released, leaving her husband still in Gaza.

Pick said of Lifshitz’s grandparents, “Both are very peaceful people who helped Gazan citizens through the years – it is very sad.”

He also recorded, “Another wine importer’s son [from Winekart] was kidnapped from the party that was held near the border” – referring to the all-night rave near Kibbutz Re’im, close to Gaza, which was invaded by Hamas.

He also told db about 21 Thai agricultural labourers who were massacred by Hamas, with a further 14 taken hostage, while noting that those who were left unharmed have since returned home to Thailand.

As a result, farmers have lost much of their workforce, not just from Asia, but many from Gaza and elsewhere too – with Pick commenting that there are “no more harvesters”, before noting that his winery, Tzora, had “fortunately finished picking by mid-September”.

While Pick said that “business seems less important these days”, he also drew db’s attention to the sudden drop in wine sales in Israel, not only because the vast majority of restaurants are closed, and tourists have gone home, but also because residents are too grief stricken to drink.

Furthermore, he said that many wineries can’t operate, having lost employees to the subsequent war, with Pick pointing out that “around 300,000 people are on reserve in the army”.

Indeed, Pick noted that some of Israel’s winemakers are now in military service in Gaza and elsewhere, leaving those left behind having to support a range of wineries with pressings and managing fermentations.

“These are very difficult times,” he said, before commenting, “I don’t remember such grief; especially with the unbelievable situation of the 240 hostages – including kids and elderly.”

Harvesting at Tzora’s vineyards in the Judean Hills before Hamas invaded southern Israel on 7 October. Photo credit: David Silverman

Read more

The Proust Q&A: Eran Pick MW

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No