Updated: Oct 7
Israeli wines are celebrated globally!
Israeli wines and their respective wineries have garnered top awards at the world's most prestigious wine competitions since the late 1990s. Golan Wineries and Carmel Wineries are perfect examples of two Israeli wineries who have become household names and have put Israeli wines on the map and also on the tables of Jewish and non-Jewish restaurants and homes throughout the world.
How was this Israeli wine revolution made possible? While Israel is a very small and narrow country, we are blessed with several excellent grape growing areas, including the central coastal plain, the Shefela and the Judean Hills where Israeli vineyards were planted some hundred years ago by the fist wave of Zionist pioneers and in more recent years, newer vineyards have been planted in the Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee.
Discover Israeli Wineries off the beaten path
Now let's discover and visit some wineries off-the-beaten-path. Visiting wineries, enjoying their readily-available tours and tastings (many times served with select locally-grown and sourced cheeses, olives and olive oil and mouth-watering freshly baked bread) and lectures are such a wonderful addition to any trip to Israel and Israel is Beautiful is thrilled to introduce you to some boutique kosher wineries that are producing terrific wines.
Thirty-five minutes northeast of Tel Aviv, in Hod HaSharon is the Benhaim Winery. Vintner Itay Ben Haim is a 6th generation vintner (!) whose love affair with grapes is evident in the delicate bouquets wafting from every bottle. Since 1932, the family has been producing several varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz that have all been aged in specially-designed oak-barrels inspired by the ones once designed by his family's ancestors back in Romania in the late 19th century! Stop in for a Friday morning tasting and enjoy some live music with a glass of your favorite wine.
Photo Credit: Benhaim Winery
RAMAT NEGEV WINERY
You may know the name Kadesh Barnea as referenced in the Torah as part of the southern border of ancient Israel. But did you know that it is also the name of a series of wines produced by the Ramat Negev winery located in the Negev? Yes, a winery in the desert - only in Israel! Employing Israeli-developed technology to irrigate the fields, Ramat Negev is creating a delicious line of Israeli wines, with all the grapes hand-picked from two Negev fields. This desert oasis is producing everything from Gewürztraminer, to Malbec, Merlot and beyond. Pruning, fertilizing and harvesting techniques are meticulously designed to offer customers wines that are consistently refreshing and satisfying.
Photo Credit: Dunsguide
Gito Winery - a home winery
Our last pick is actually a home winery located on the outskirts of Hod HaSharon. Malkiel Hadari worked in hi-tech but always dreamed of owning a winery. Wine-making was in the family, and he wanted to follow in the tradition. His dream was to have people stop by his home on Friday afternoons to buy a bottle of wine before Shabbat. He converted the bedroom, patio and garage into a winery and that's how Gito Winery was born. While Malkiel is still working in hi-tech in Raanana, he stops to check on his vineyards in Kfar Pines, about 30 miles away, almost every day. It's a grueling schedule but Malkiel and his wife Dina are so passionate about the world of wine-making that they have learned to adjust very hectic schedules to Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Petite Verdot for red wines and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for white ones.
Photo Credit: My Israel Wine
Israel, the land of honey, milk and wine!
Israel's wine and food industry has exploded in recent years! Wineries, breweries, chef restaurants and street food stands abound in every city and town in Israel. On your next visit, Israel is Beautiful warmly recommends you explore some of the lesser-known wineries and enjoy wine tastings throughout the country. L'chaim!
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