Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Firm imports Bethlehem altar wine

Cremisan wines: Pic 5th Gospel Retreats
The grapes are grown without the use of chemicals

Altar wine from Bethlehem is set to re-enter the UK again after movement restrictions were lifted by the Israeli authorities, its UK importer has said.

Della Shenton from Liskeard, Cornwall, set up the not-for-profit company 5th Gospel Retreats to help Christians in the Palestinian territories.

She said authorities had allowed the wine to cross into Israel, where it can be shipped into Europe from Haifa.

The wine is made at the Cremisan winery in Beit Jala, a suburb of Bethlehem.

It is produced in the West Bank by the Roman Catholic order the Salesians of Don Bosco.

Employment protection

The grapes are grown without the use of chemicals and the crop is hand picked by local Palestinians from the Bethlehem area.

Its customers include UK Catholic and Anglican parishes as well as university chaplaincies and religious houses.

Mrs Shenton said on 4 December a truck carrying 12,000 bottles of Cremisan wine was permitted to leave the West Bank and crossed the checkpoint "without delay".

She said the wine had continued to leave for Israel since then.

Although too late for the UK in time for Christmas, all the religious establishments in Israel had their wine delivered in time, Mrs Shenton added.

5th Gospel Retreats also imports a range of other Palestinian products to the UK.

Mrs Shenton said the imports helped the area by providing employment and protecting the livelihoods of farmers, craftsmen and women.

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