The wine industry is like any other in that it finds a home for those looking
for a career in production, distribution, logistics, sales and marketing.
However, there are three professions that are unique to wine alone.The
A viticulturist is an agronomist who has specialized in vineyards.
In wine growing, the management of the vineyards is very important, as you can
make good wine from good grapes but it is difficult to make good wine from bad
grapes. That is why wineries talk about growing wine in the vineyard rather than
just growing grapes.
Some of the larger wineries will employ a vineyard
specialist to manage their vineyards and give instructions to the growers and
vineyard managers. Agronomists in Israel generally study at the Hebrew
University Faculty of Agriculture at Rehovot and at the Volcani Institute in
Beit Dagan. Most of their knowledge comes from practical work in
vineyards, which they will support by study visits to wine-growing regions
around the world.
Their job is to supervise the vineyard year. This
includes the choice of varieties and clones, the planting of vines, winter
pruning, cultivating and harvesting.
Trellising or vine-training and
canopy management of the vine are crucial to the final quality. The
viticulturist plays a major part in the quality of the resulting
The winemaker is the chef of the winery. He will work
closely with the viticulturist and growers, but if the viticulturist is
responsible for the vineyard, the winemaker is in charge at the winery. He is
responsible for receiving the grapes at harvest and transforming them into wine.
The sampling, crushing, pressing, fermentation, aging, blending, bottling and
bottle maturation are his responsibility. He has to decide on which wines to
blend, the idea being to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
Also he has to decide which plot or parcel in which vineyard should be kept
separate for a single vineyard wine or to be part of a prestige
Twenty years ago most Israeli winemakers rarely visited
Today, it is not an exaggeration to say that wine is made in
the vineyards, so the modern winemaker will be well versed in viticulture and
will often be found sampling grapes in the vineyards.
The winemaker is
part scientist, part artist, part agriculturist.
Two different winemakers
with exactly the same fruit and equipped with the same machinery and technology
will produce totally different wines.
The finest Israeli winemakers are
usually internationally trained and follow this by work experience at famous
wineries. Once, most of the new-wave Israeli winemakers studied enology at the
University of California at Davis. Today it seems more popular to study
at Roseworthy College and Adelaide University in South Australia. However,
others choose universities in France or Italy, and even New Zealand and
Sommeliers are the wine professionals outside the
gates of the winery. They are most known in the restaurant context. A
quality wine waiter in Israel will often be complimentarily referred to as “the
sommelier.” In theory, a sommelier will be responsible for meeting winery
representatives, tasting and buying wines, managing the cellar and storage
facilities, compiling the wine list, ensuring the availability, maintenance and
cleanliness of wine accessories such as glassware and decanters, and training
bar staff and waiters in wine service. They will also have a sales
responsibility and be responsible for promotional programs. They will
need to know not only about wine but also beers, spirits, liqueurs, coffee, tea, water, soft drinks and even
The sommelier will learn on site through career progression
through the food service industry, supplemented by wine courses like the Wines
& Spirits Education Trust (WSET) in London or one of the college wine
courses in Israel. Afterwards, he may specialize by doing the progressive
courses organized by The Court of Master Sommeliers or Guild of
Sommeliers. Most important is that they do an internship in one of the
top international restaurants to gain experience.
Trained sommeliers do
not have to work in a restaurant. They may also work in wine education or
as a wine buyer or be the wine professional for a wine shop, importer or
distributor.Where to study wine
The wine store chain Derech Hayayin
(www.wineroute.co.il) and Ish Anavim (www.grapeman.com) teach wine
appreciation ranging from tasting events to five-session courses.
colleges offer wine courses lasting a full academic year. Ramat Gan College’s
Wine Academy is suitable for both wine lovers and wine professionals. It also
has an advanced course. Tel Hai College’s Cellar Master Course, held in the
Upper Galilee, is suitable for future winemakers. Ariel University Center
of Samaria organizes a wine course especially geared for those running a
boutique or small winery. Sorek Winery at Moshav Tal Shahar also runs a
practical winemaking course, which has a more hands-on approach. It is ideal for
New last year, the Ohalo College in Katzrin runs a
course for winemaking students in cooperation with the CFPPA in Beaune,
These courses are all in Hebrew. However, for English speakers,
help is at hand.
American-born David Rhodes is a trained sommelier and
wine educator from California, who writes and broadcasts about Israeli wine. He
is known as “the Israeli wine guy.” His educational wine lectures, courses,
tastings and wine event dinners are all conducted in English. He can be
contacted by e-mail: [email protected]
Wine of the week: Teperberg Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2008
This good-value wine is made 100 percent from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in
the Samaria hills. The wine has an aroma of black fruits, cherries and sweetish
vanilla from oak aging. It is produced by the Teperberg 1870 Winery, previously
known as Efrat. Teperberg is Israel’s largest family-owned winery and the
fourth-largest winery in Israel.
Since moving from Motza to Kibbutz
Tzora, the winery’s wines have improved no end and are now sold under labels
called “Teperberg Reserve,” “Terra,” “Teperberg Silver” and “Israeli.” This
reserve wine is a fine example of its premier label.
Price: NIS 110.
■ Adam Montefiore works for Carmel
Winery and regularly writes about wine for Israeli and international