Wine Talk: Harvest time

Succot is the traditional time for celebrating the wine-grape harvest, which is also the best time to visit some of the picturesque wineries around the country.

Tulip winery 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tulip winery 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Succot is the wine harvest festival. Traditionally it was a time to celebrate the harvest, though the wine harvest in the higher northern areas invariably continues after Succot. It is a perfect time to visit wineries.
In a recent article I listed what I considered to be some of the most innovative winery visitors centers in Israel. They were those belonging to the Golan Heights Winery in Katzrin; Adir in the Upper Galilee; Carmel in Zichron Ya’acov; Tishbi in Binyamina; and Psagot in the northern Jerusalem Hills.
However, this was not to exclude other excellent venues that are well worth a visit. By popular demand, here is another selection of wineries with visitors’ centers that will delight, entertain and educate.
But it is important to book your visit in advance. If you just turn up or telephone at the last minute, you are likely to end up disappointed.
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Galil Mountain Winery
The Galil Mountain Winery was founded in 2000 at Kibbutz Yiron. It is situated on the northern border with Lebanon. It is a modern, state-of-the-art winery, built partly with the tourist in mind. Visitors will receive an excellent understanding of the winemaking process. There is also a good shop. This visit is particularly recommended for young families because the kibbutz has a lake with paddle boats, animals and good picnic areas.
Kibbutz Yiron, Upper Galilee, Tel: (04) 686- 8740, [email protected],
Tabor Winery
What started as a hobby by four local grape-growing families has turned into one of the fastest-growing wineries in Israel.
Owned by Coca-Cola Israel, Tabor wines are available to consumers throughout the country. The winery, situated in the shadow of Mount Tabor, offers fun, informative tours for the whole family.
The nearby almond and marzipan museum is a must for restless children and hungry parents. The rustic restaurant provides good food at reasonable prices.
Kfar Tavor, Lower Galilee, Tel: (04) 676- 0444, [email protected],
Tulip Winery
This is a family winery founded in 2003, which makes good wines and contributes to the community. It is situated east of Mount Carmel, at Kiryat Tivon. Kfar Tikva (The Village of Hope) is a residential community designed for those with disabilities and special needs. The Tulip Winery employs members of the community to help them reach their potential.
Visitors to this winery experience the unique atmosphere and receive a guided tour and a tasting. The Shiraz and Syrah Reserve are particularly recommended.
Kfar Tikva, Kiryat Tivon, Tel: (04) 983- 0573, [email protected],
Binyamina Winery
Binyamina’s visitors’ center is based in a two-story building built by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1925 as a perfume factory.
The winery was founded in 1952 and was initially known as Eliaz. In recent years, the winery has undergone enormous investments to renovate all aspects of the production and public areas in the historical premises. Binyamina wines are now much sought after. The kosher restaurant is a quality operation and a convenient stop for the hungry.
Hanassi Street, Binyamina, Tel: (04) 638- 8643/2, [email protected],
Mony Winery
This is a unique operation. It is owned by Shakiv Artul from the northern village of Mughar, who has owned vineyards in the Judean foothills since the 1980s. The winery was founded in 2002 in honor of his son, Mony, who died prematurely. It is situated on the grounds of a monastery, where a celebrated Canadian winemaker produces kosher wines. The winery has a magnificent view overlooking the vineyards.
It is worthwhile to sit in the excavated cave and taste the wines. The wines are good, but the olive oil and olives are worth a visit on their own.
Deir Rafat Monastery, near Beit Shemesh, Tel: (02) 991-6629; 991-7981, [email protected]
Tzora Winery
A great winery for a casual visit with friends. There is a shop that sells gourmet products, including cheeses and olives.
Outside is an attractive garden area and a place to sit and eat in a great atmosphere.
Quite apart from this, there is a range of wines to taste. For a more formal visit, there is a very grand tasting room. This is one of Israel’s fastest-improving wineries.
Kibbutz Tzora, near Beit Shemesh, Tel: (02) 990-8261, [email protected],
Gush Etzion Winery
This winery is in a beautiful building, which has the look of a newly built synagogue.
Here it is possible to visit the winery, taste the wine and buy the wines you like. There is also a dairy café on the premises, which is kosher lemehadrin.
Shraga Rosenberg was manager of a retirement home when he first started making wine at home in the 1990s. He planted vineyards and in 2004 built the winery in the mountainous area south of Jerusalem.
Gush Etzion Junction, Tel: (02) 930-9220, [email protected],
Yatir Winery
The Yatir Winery is situated at Tel Arad. It is a very modern, technologically advanced winery, producing some of Israel’s finest wines. The vineyards lie in the Yatir Forest, 10 minutes from the winery. This is the place for a hike and a picnic. It is possible to see the ancient wine presses, the Anim Synagogue ruins and to understand the pioneering spirit that planted the forest in the first place. It is also worth visiting Tel Arad, an archeological site with 3,000 years of history.
Tel Arad, northeastern Negev, Tel: (08) 995-9090, [email protected],
Adam Montefiore works for Carmel Winery and regularly writes about wine for Israeli and international publications.