Here is a new way for Diaspora Jews to connect to Israel: plant grape vines. This is the idea behind Wine on the Vine, which partners with Israeli wineries and Israeli charities. Think it as a millennial-driven reboot of the JNF plant a tree in Israel campaign.
Like the trees were, each vine is an $18 donation. The digital platform is set up for donors to choose the number of vines they wish to underwrite, which winery they want them planted for and the charity they’d like to benefit. Like the trees, donors can plant vines in their own name, or in honor of a loved one or major life event. There’s even a digital certificate.
So far, Wine on the Vine has partnered with Carmel, Gush Etzion Winery, Jezreel Valley Winery, MAIA Winery, Psagot, Tabor, Tulip and Yatir. The charities one can choose to support through purchasing vines include the Lone Soldier Center, which supports more than 6,000 lone soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces; Esek M’Shelach, which empowers disadvantaged women to start their own businesses; Bina, a Jewish cultural and social action organization; and Darca Schools, which provides STEM education to low income Israeli high school students.
All of this was explained to me by Adam Bellos, a 31-year-old Israeli entrepreneur and founder of The Israel Innovation Fund, whose headline project is Wine on the Vine.
The notion is simple, yet innovative: Instead of planting trees, Wine on the Vine encourages “those who love the land and people of Israel” — regardless of affiliation — to invest in Israel’s land, culture and commerce by investing in its wine, Bellos said.
The intended benefit is threefold. Through planting vines, Wine on the Vine offers an opportunity for “those elsewhere…to literally root themselves in the soil of Israel,” and affords them another avenue to “raise money for causes that serve the needs of the people of Israel,” and also allows them to “support a 3,500-year Jewish cultural practice that connects with people all around the world, especially young people,” he said.
“We don’t need trees anymore,” Bellos said. “We need vines.”
An ardent Zionist, Bellos has been devoting his time to “trying to figure out a way to reboot the Zionist movement for the next generation.” It was actually Bellos’ father who came up with the idea — planting vines the way the JNF plants trees. But once enunciated, the light bulb went off. The Israel Innovation Fund is “about launching commercially viable projects that highlight Israel’s culture,” said Bellos, “and everybody loves wine. It’s a totally new way to give and physically connect to Israel — you can gift somebody an Israeli vine for a wedding, birth or a bris” or whatever.
It’s a cool new approach to connecting with the people, culture and land of Israel. Just as cool as a glass of the value-driven Psagot, Sinai, Jerusalem Mountains, 2016 ($19; mevushal): an uncomplicated, but very likeable and easy to drink blend of 55 percent cabernet sauvignon, and 45 percent shiraz. It is fresh, fruity and food-friendly. L’chaim!
Send your wine and spirits questions to Joshua E. London at [email protected].