Israel – the land flowing with milk and honey… and wine! With approximately 300 wineries (in a country about the size of New Jersey, mind you), Israel is beginning to capture the attention of wine connoisseurs worldwide. Considering that 20 years ago there were fewer than 10 wineries in the entire country, it is amazing how quickly the wine scene has boomed.
But viticulture is nothing new to the land of Israel. The style and methods may have changed over the years, but the roots of wine making in Israel run deep. Deuteronomy 33:28 describes Israel as “a land of grain and new wine, where the heavens drop dew”.
While there are many wonderful wineries in Israel, 10 particularly exquisite ones stand out.
GOLAN HEIGHTS WINERY
The winery’s slogan, “Leading the way in creating and nurturing the fine wine culture in Israel” is fitting, considering that Golan Heights Winery has won 75 major international awards and their products are exported to over 32 countries around the world. Established over 30 years ago, wine enthusiasts can enjoy wine tours and tastings at the winery’s visitor’s center, located in Katzrin, Golan Heights.
Address: Katzrin, Golan Heights
With a family history deeply connected to the land – and more specifically the vineyards – of Zichron Ya’akov and its surroundings, the Tishbi winery has grown from humble beginnings to an internationally acclaimed winery encompassing 6 vineyards. Offering a wide range of wines as well as wine jellies and jams, the Tishbi winery offers an experience to remember. Their tasting center offers wine tours and tastings, as well as chocolate tastings and a restaurant.
Address: Zichron Ya’akov
This family owned and operated winery understands the importance of well cared for vineyards. They pride themselves on painstakingly tending to each of their 4 vineyards’ every need. A tasting of their Old World style wine shows that this hard work pays off.
Situated close to Beit Shemesh, the winery offers wine tastings accompanied by a workshop as well as the opportunity to relax and enjoy the surroundings with wine and cheese platters.
Address: Yaar Hakdoshim, Eshtaol
Having studied oenology in Western Australia, Pelter Winery’s founder Tal Pelter and his brothers strive to produce premium yet accessible wines. The result is a reflection of the Australian wine culture mixed with the winery’s three core principles: vitality, quality, and family. The family focused nature of the winery is evident with every sip. Also located in the Golan Heights, it can be visited by appointment.
Address: Ein Zivan, Golan Heights
This boutique winery focuses not only on producing great wine, but also on doing so in a socially responsible way. Tulip Winery is located in a small community for people with special needs and uses the winery as a teaching tool to integrate members of the community into the workforce. The visitor’s center in Kfar Tikva (Village of Hope) offers wine tastings (where visitors can also learn more about the winery and its workforce) and a wine shop. Approximately half an hour from Haifa, this winery is well worth the drive.
Address: Kfar Tikva, Kiryat Tivon
This winery was founded in the Hefer Valley by a group of wine lovers desiring to produce quality wine at reasonable prices. Their wines are primarily focused on varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, French Colombard, and Emerald Riesling. Recanati currently exports their wines to the United States, Canada, Australia, Western Europe, and Japan, so you may even come across them at your local wine shop!
Located in the Emek Hefer Industrial Park, the winery offers a guided tour and a tasting session that includes wine, cheese, breads and vegetables.
Address: 16 Gesher Haetz st., Emek Hefer Industrial Park
A veteran of the Israeli winemaking scene, Binyamina Winery was founded in 1952 in a former perfume factory. Through the years, the wines have transformed from mostly sweet to a diverse spectrum of flavors falling under 5 different labels. With such a wide variety of wines available, there is something for every palate.
Located in a 90 year old heritage building in Binyamina, the winery offers workshops and wine tours, as well as grape juice tasting for students!
Address: Winery Street, Binyamina
Situated in the foothills of Mount Tabor, this winery produces wines that embrace the natural aromas and flavors of the grapes. The fertile soil and fantastic climate of the Galilee give the wine an ideal foundation by producing the perfect grapes. The winery offers a comprehensive tour that even allows you to witness the winemaking process. And if you are in Israel in July of August, make sure to join their annual ‘Family Harvest Day’ where you can crush the grapes that you handpick earlier in the day.
Address: Kfar Tabor
GALIL MOUNTAIN WINERY
It is no surprise that this winery has built a successful name for itself, as it stems from the famous Golan Heights Winery. Featuring 15 blends and varietals, the wine has won several (mostly gold) awards at international competitions and can be found in all corners of the world!
The visitor’s center is located in the picturesque Upper Galilee and offers guided tours, wine tastings and lunch packages for groups of 20 or more.
Address: Kibbutz Yiron M.P. Merom Hagalil
The Montefiore family originated in a small town in Italy, later moved to England, and finally settled in Israel. Their winery reflects a unique combination of “the passion of Italy, the grandeur of England and the pride of Israel”. Visitors can enjoy a glass of Montefiore wine at the Montefiore Restaurant in Mishkenot Sha’aninim, with a beautiful view to the Old City of Jerusalem and the Yemin Moshe Windmill.
Address: Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem
Montefiore Restaurant: Yemin Moshe (beneath the windmill complex) Jerusalem
Telephone: Winery: 035342247, Restaurant: 0539438439
So be sure to set some time aside on your next visit to Israel and visit one (or more!) of these wineries for an experience you won’t forget.
This post originally featured on www.americaisraeltours.com.