Four of Israel's Best Wineries

Here are four vineyards worth visiting for a 'religious' experience during the Sukkot holiday.

Even our ancient sages ruled that one must be merry on holidays - and what could make one more cheerful than some wine? In honor of the long holiday that is upon us, when family patience is tested, we offer a guide for touring five wineries across the country.

The Luria Winery - Moshav Safsufa

This is a family winery that was established in 2006 by Yosef Saida, a vintner belonging to a long family line of farmers. The vineyard is blessed with a mixture of soils, consisting of volcanic basalt, limestone and terra rossa clay, a combination which is excellent for growing various grape types.

A must for tasting: the winery offers a dry Gewurtztraminer, pleasant and fruity, one of the few in Israel that are not laden with sugar. The winery also offers a frisky Terra Rossa, rich-bodied with a strong presentation after aging for 12 months in French oak barrels.

In addition to touring the winery and tasting its wines, one can tour the vineyards and view the grape picking, now at its peak. There are other attractions in the area for families or individuals, such as horseback riding in Moshav Bat Ya’ar. One can also rent all-terrain vehicles (ATV) in Dishon or Ramot Naftali. Nearby is the Adir Winery, which has a visitor center, as well as a dairy specializing in goat cheeses and yoghurt. It allows visitors to taste its cheeses as well as its goat milk ice cream. The winery conducts organized tours when booked in advance.

Visiting hours are between 9:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. Entrance fees range from NIS 30 to NIS 45, depending on the tour. This can be offset by purchasing wines.

Dalton Winery – Dalton industrial park

This winery was established in 1995 by Armand Maman, a farmer from Moshav Kerem Ben Zimra, who linked up with British businessman Mati Haruni. The winery started out in Maman’s back yard and moved to its present location in the Dalton industrial park in 1999.

A must for tasting: Cana’an white wine. This is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and a bit of Muscat of Alexandria. Their Zinfandel comes from grapes grown in the Safsufa vineyard at the foot of Mount Meron. It is aged in American oak barrels, giving it an enticing vanilla smoky flavor.

There are organized tours for individuals or groups, with explanations about the region and the wine production process. At the end of the tour there is professional tasting with optional purchasing of the winery’s products. During the holidays one can order dairy or meat meals on site, as well as take a jeep tour of the vineyards. From the winery, one can continue to several other attractions in the area, such as the Birya forest and fortress and the various attractions of Safed, including the Beit Hameiri museum, the artists’ quarter, the printing press museum, dairies in the old quarter and the Menara cliff.

During the Sukkot holiday the winery will be open between 9:30 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. On holiday eves it will be open from 9:30 A.M until 2:00 P.M. It is closed on Saturdays. Tours cost NIS 15 for people over 14 years of age and NIS 10 for soldiers. Tours must be arranged in advance.

Flam Winery – Yaar Hakdoshim, Eshtaol

The Flam brothers, Golan and Gil’ad, inherited their love of wine from their father, Israel, who was the chief sommelier at the Carmel Mizrahi winery. The Flam winery was opened in 1996 in the Judean Hills, near the Eshtaol road junction and the Yaar Hakdoshim forest. It is now considered to be one of the best wineries in Israel, with its wines sometimes making it into the list of the world’s 100 top wines.

A must for tasting: The Flam Rose, made entirely from Cabernet Franc grapes. This is a dry fruity and refreshing summer wine that goes well with light food or a picnic in nature; also suitable for informal occasions. The Nouvelle is the winery’s flagship wine.

The tours of this winery are best suited to people with a knowledge of wine and are less so for families. One can arrange in advance to attend a hands-on wine workshop with Israel Flam, which also includes tasting the winery’s products. One can add a visit to the nearby Yaar Hakdoshim forest when visiting the winery.

The winery is closed on Saturdays and can be opened by request on Fridays. Tours cost NIS 90, or NIS 130 if they include wine tasting with an excellent cheese platter and fresh breads.

Kadesh Barnea winery – Moshav Kadesh Barnea, Nitzanei Sinai

This winery was established by Nira and Alon Tzadok in 2000 in the Moshav of Nitzanei Sinai in the Negev.

A must for tasting: Single Vineyard is the flagship series of this winery. It is made from the best grapes collected each year from the vineyards of Moshav Kadesh Barnea and the Negev mountains. This is a wonderful wine with an impressive presence and ample potential for aging in a bottle.

The winery is suitable for touring by groups or individuals. There are other attractions in the area, such as jeep tours, motorcycles and ATV’s. One can also enjoy Bedouin hospitality in the nearby Moshav Ezuz. Visiting the winery is free and includes tasting. Visits have to be arranged in advance.

Bloomberg
Nira Madar Zadok
David Silverman