Psagot Winery: Winning awards while supporting the occupation

By Therezia Cooper & Tom Anderson

The Psagot Winery visitors’ centre is located in the illegal settlement of Psagot, positioned just outside Ramallah and Al Bireh in the West Bank. Established in 1981, the settlement hosts the headquarters of the Binyamin Regional Council and has a population of over 1600 people.

Originally, the winery itself was also based there, but in 2008 it moved a few minutes down the road to the East Jerusalem settlement, Pisgat Ze’ev. Its first vineyards were planted on stolen land in 1998 and the winery has been operational since 2003. It produces around 100,000 bottles of wine per year, most – but not all – of which is sold in Israel. The winery’s vineyards are located within the West Bank.

The Israeli settlement wine export industry might not yet be huge, but settlement wineries are growing and have a big impact on Palestinians. The planting of vineyards facilitates settlement expansion and is an easy way to take over Palestinian land. Just like with other settlement businesses there is also state support for individuals willing to operate from the West Bank. For a full report of all the facts around Israel’s settlement wine industry, read the excellent report by Who Profits? Forbidden Fruit: The Israeli Wine Industry and the Occupation.

Occupier controlled tourism

One way in which wineries in the West Bank and the occupied Syrian Golan try to attract custom is to make their vineyards into tourism attractions.

This is the case with the Psagot ’boutique’ winery. Actively encouraging Israeli-controlled tourism to occupied territory, it shares a building with the Nachalat Binyamin Visitors Centre. Both are promoted by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. During a visit, you can combine wine tasting and a tour of the winery with an ‘educational’ tour consisting of interactive experiences, multimedia and films.

Ideologically motivated, the materials shown expose the visitors “to the strategic, security and financial importance of the Binyamin region.” for Israel and “the connection between man and land in Binyamin”. What they do not show is reality of life for Palestinians living under occupation. Tours are available in several languages. Though mainly aimed at Jewish tourists (we were asked if we were Jewish when we visited), Christians are also a target group for this kind of West Bank tourism. The winery has reportedly had American Christian volunteers working in their vineyards.

Rewarding the occupiers

Settlement wineries stand to gain in reputation through participation in international wine competitions. As the ‘Vinalies Internationales’ website states “To win a medal at Vinalies Internationales is also to benefit from an opportunity to boost your sales efforts”. One way for BDS activists to target Psagot, and other West Bank grown settler wines, would be to challenge their in these competitions. One way to do this would be to challenge the description of wine produced on Israeli settlements as ‘Israeli’ wine.

Wine competitions to target

 

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Psagot’s settlement Merlot described as an ‘Israeli’ wine in the French Vinalies Internationales competition, Corporate Watch, 2013

Vinalies Internationales

This competition’s ‘conditions of admission’ section states that ”All products must indicate the country where the grapes have been harvested in and made into wine”, and that “Only wines respecting the stipulations expressed in article 40 of the EEC. regulation N°2392/89, namely those relative to the origin and the source, will be accepted”. As shown in the picture above, Psagot has entered its wines into this competition as ‘Israeli’ despite the company sourcing and processing its grapes on occupied Palestinian territory.

Vinalies Internationales
21-23, rue de Croulebarbe, 75013 PARIS
Tel: +33 1 58 52 20 20
E-mail :vinalies@oenologuesdefrancefr

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Psagot settlement winery’s wine being described as ‘Israeli’ by the TerraVino Mediterranean International Wine and Spirit Challenge, Corporate Watch, 2013

 TerraVino Mediterranean International Wine and Spirit Challenge

As this competition is held in Israel it would be a harder target, although the TerraVino has representatives around the world who could be contacted.

Contacts for TerraVino
Terravino (info@mediterraneaniwc.com)
Secrétariat général:
Raul Castellani (rcc@mediterraneaniwc.com)
Relations internationales:
Moises Spak (mas@mediterraneaniwc.com)
TEL : +972 547 629 101
Fax : +972 3518 9001

 

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Psagot settlement wine described as ‘Israeli’ in an international wine competition in Panama. Corporate Watch, 2013

Psagot Wines’ distributor in the UK is the Kosher wine distributor and importer Royal Wine UK/Kedem Europe Ltd:
Block B – OCC Estate
105 Eade Road
London
N4 1TJ
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8802 8889
Email: sales@kedemeurope.com

It is represented internationally by Royal Wine Corp.

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3 thoughts on “Psagot Winery: Winning awards while supporting the occupation

  1. There is only one occupation and it is from the Arabs on the Land of Israel.
    Arabs should return to the countries they belong to, they can chose among 22 countries and settle over millions of km square.
    How could be that a person living only 2 years in a country can be labelled a refugee by UNWRA? A mystery that stinks petroleum…..
    Twisted historical facts. Israel in its heartland in the past has been known in history as a wine country and only with the JEWS returning to their land, the land flourished. Benjamin, Juda and Ephraim land.
    So amazing to see side by side a Jewish village green, flourishing and an arab one dirty and abandoned.
    Occupied land? Yes, but by Arabs only!
    Stop twisting the TRUTH that has been written in books for centuries.
    Jewish villages can be built all over the Land of Israel, it is legally supported by San Remo, by UN 80 and UNSC 242. Jordan stole the land and brought ten of thousands of Arabs from the East.
    There is no such a thing as a Palestine people, just Arabs that define them selves as such in contrast to the Jews living in their own and only country!
    26000 km square is too much for the Jews on Earth?
    Buy Isreali wine from Benjamin! They got the price and are worth

    1. The Palestinians are indigenous inhabitants of Palestine. Saying that they should move to other Arab countries is advocating ethnic cleansing.
      Saying that there is ‘no such thing as a Palestinian’ etc is racist (as if I really have to point that out)
      The Israeli settlements in the territories occupied in 1967 are illegal under international law and UN resolutions – contrary to what you say
      For freedom of movement for all…

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