Richard Shaffer, founder of Israeli Wine Direct, invited me to be a guest blogger twice a month on his Israel wine blog. Click here to read my post.
Join Israeli Wine Direct and be able to buy boutique wines from Israel easily through Richard, who is located in Chicago.
Richard sells wine from these Israeli wineries: Flam, Margalit, Pelter, Somek, Clos De Gat, Tulip, Tzora, Meishar and Karmai Yosef.
On Sunday, May 9th we set out of Tel Aviv early in the morning to drive to a couple of Jerusalem wineries. The views were superb and the scenic drive was calming. The first winery we visited was Ella Valley Winery, a kosher winery producing almost 200,000 bottles and located in Nativ Ha-Lamid. Jason and Phil thoroughly enjoyed the smooth and bold taste of the Ella Valley wines, especially their Cabernet Franc.
The next winery we visited was Flam Winery, a non-kosher family owned winery. We were toured through Flam Winery facilities by Israel Flam, the father of the winemakers and winemaker himself for over 40 years. Israel proudly detailed for us the family's interest and history with wine. We then sat down with Israel and had a lovely tasting of their crisp and light Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay 2009 blend, the Syrah Superior 2006, Flam Classico, and the Cabernet Reserve which surprised us as one of the best wines we've tasted thus far.
Jason and Phil definitely enjoyed their two day winery experience. As this was Phil's first trip to Israel, and the first couple of his days in Israel, he was surprised by the high-quality kosher and non-kosher wines produced in Israel.
On Friday, May 7th I picked Jason and Phil up at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv. Phil just arrived from Miami the night before and was a bit tired but he was a trooper.
Our first stop was Tishbi Winery where they loved the Wine Jams by Oshra Tishbi and homemade bread. They tasted a range of wines from the Gewurtstraminer to the Oaked Chardonnay and the young 2009 Merlot to the Jonathan Tishbi Special Reserve Cabernet-Merlot blend from 2004.
Our next stop was Somek Winery where we all enjoyed a private tasting with Barak, the winemaker, at his home. We had a few laughs and purchased his delicious 2007 oaked Chardonnay and 2004 Reserve HaBilkat HaNadiv. We then enjoyed a very nice lunch at Nili Bar along the Midrachov in Zichron Yaakov.
Our last winery was Amphorae Winery where they enjoyed the scenery of being surrounded by the lush forests and a tasting of their wines, specifically the newly released Unica Cabernet Sauvignon. We then drove back to Tel Aviv before Shabbat came-in.
The morning of April 28th I met the West family and their friends in Tiberius for a day tour of the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee Wineries.
We started on the South tip of the Golan Heights at Château Winery and met with Uri Hetz, the head winemaker. We tasted their Eliad flagship wine, went into the cave that holds all their oak barrels, and enjoyed bread, olive oil and many of their delicious wines.
We then drove North on the Golan Heights to Pelter Winery and met Tal Pelter, the wine maker and owner, in his garage, where we tasted the famous Trio, semi-dry Gewurztraminer, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a rich yet balanced Cabernet Franc and many more wines.
We crossed the beautiful Hula Valley and drove to Ramot Naftali hills where we met Rami, the winemaker of Naaman Winery. Rami was a film maker in Tel Aviv for over 30 years before him and his artist wife retired to the Upper Galilee and decided to have a more relaxing lifestyle as a winemaker and decorator. At Naaman we tasted his Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Rami names his wines after the Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead and other music legends.
Our third winery was Galil Mountain Winery where Shiri gave us a private tasting of their Chardonnay, Viognier, flagship Yiron, Meron, and Avivim as well as their Barbara and Shiraz.
The last winery was Adir Winery were we enjoyed being spoiled by Zvi, a wine expert from Brooklyn. Zvi gave us tastings of both their Kerem Ben Zimra and Plato as well as their Port style wine and dessert wine.
We completed all 5 wineries from 10am to 5:30pm. The families enjoyed the beautiful views, explanation of each winery and the history of Israeli wines, and most importantly the wines themselves from their superior terrior of the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee Regions.
The Martin’s take pleasure in a nice bottle of wine and know about wine from a wine appreciation course in London. The first stop was the Adir Winery where the Martins were spoiled with a beautiful goat’s cheese platter, goat milk yogurt and a wine pairing. Zvi poured them the 2007 and 2006 Cabernet, 2007 Shiraz, Plato series wine, dessert wine and Port.
The Martin’s never tasted wine made from Pomegranates so I took them to the Rimon Winery where they toured the facilities, saw the vineyards, and tasted the dry and semi-dry wines as well as the Rimon confiture.
We then drove into the Kerem Ben Zimra kibbutz and visited Molly, the owner and winemaker of Miles Winery. The Martin’s enjoyed the intimate setting in Molly’s home where she poured them her newly released 2005 Merlot, 2006 Cabernet-Merlot blend, White Port, and Red Port.
To understand the wide range of wineries in Israel we then traveled to kibbutz Yiron, on the boarder with Lebanon, and toured the Galil Mountain Winery, who produces 1 million bottles a year. The Martin’s tasted the Viognier, Yiron and Meron flagship wines, and the Barbera.
From 10:30am until 4pm we enjoyed 4 wineries and the scenic Upper Galilee views. The Martin’s learned more about Israeli wine and brought back some souvenirs to share with their wine appreciation class.