July 31, 2015 – The palace of Tel Kabri in northwestern Israel is an amazing find and a window into life in the Bronze Age. In November 2013 we reported on an announcement by archaeologists that they had found 40 jars that appeared to hold red wine in the ruins of a Canaanite palace dating back almost 4,000 years http://www.wineandspirits.com/ancient-wine-cellar-found-in-israel/.
Unlike ruins at other archaeological sites, Tel Kabri was abandoned and not rebuilt after its destruction, probably by earthquake. The ruins and artifacts found there can be reliably dated back to when the palace was occupied from about 1850 B.C. to 1600 B.C. No one knows who occupied the palace but its rulers had an upscale, even palatial, lifestyle judging by the number of vessels that contained wine found in the banquet room.
Further excavation recently uncovered three additional storage rooms holding 70 wine jars and grape seeds. The jars will undergo analysis to determine if they held the aromatic red wine found in the original jars, or whether they held some other type of libation. The ancient grape seeds might help pinpoint the exact period of the Tel Kabri palace’s existence and also shed light on the variety of grapes they used for wine making in the Canaanite era. DNA from the grape seeds in the palace store rooms may reveal connections to wild grapes in the region that possibly date back to the Bronze Age
Israel’s wine culture was wiped out under Islamic rule of the region around the 7th century. Most grape varieties growing in Israel today were brought there by French philanthropist Edmond James de Rothschild in the 19th century.