A little wine and biking in Mateh Yehuda

Boutique wineries, art galleries and B&Bs are popping up like mushrooms in Mateh Yehuda.

Adullam Park has several paths appropriate for all levels of hikers and ages. (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Adullam Park has several paths appropriate for all levels of hikers and ages.
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
It’s been so hot and humid outside, and because of the security situation people aren’t going much to the beach or other places in central Israel. But if you’re a hike enthusiast and you’re looking for a quiet, beautiful spot in a safe location, Mateh Yehuda is the place for you. There’s a little bit of nature, some fun things to do, good food and even a lovely boutique winery. Some have even begun calling the area the Israeli Route de Vin (wine route).
This moniker reflects the region’s character well, since over the last decade it has become home to dozens of both small and large wineries. In addition, locals have opened a number of art galleries and boutique breweries, and there is an array of professionals who lead groups on hiking, adventure and bicycle tours. Of course, there is a plethora of cute B&Bs in the area, too.
One recently founded boutique winery is Kerem Barak at the Rosenberg Farm on Moshav Bekoa, which is just off Route 1, between the Latrun Intersection and the Nahshon junction.
When you stand next to the winery’s main building, you have a beautiful open view, including the small vineyard that Yael and Yossi Rosenberg cultivate themselves. Visitors to the small winery that the Rosenbergs own can taste wine and cheeses made on site, as well as participate in workshops on how to bake sourdough bread. There is also a visitors’ center and a restaurant where you can order customized dishes.
The Rosenbergs named the winery after their son Barak, who died when he was only 18. They even decided to commemorate him by putting drawings he had made on their product labels.
Yossi is the vintner at Kerem Barak.
He began making wine back in 2003 (not for profit), when he was still a student. Over time, he and Yael began to feel restless, so they decided to fulfill their dream of creating an Israeli boutique winery and grow their own grapes. After searching for some time for a location that would fit their needs, they came upon Moshav Bekoa. They left city life behind them and set out to make their dream come true. They currently produce 4,000 bottles of dry wine each year, which they sell on site.
Making bread and cheese are two other talents Yossi has, so it wasn’t long before he began offering weekly cheese-making and bread-baking workshops.
These are limited to small groups and are by reservation only. Not only does he impart an incredible amount of information during these sessions, but they are entertaining, and participants are invited to taste the cheeses and breads.
WHEN YOU’VE finished visiting the winery, if you’re interested in going for a quick nature outing, you can return to your car and drive a little further east to Moshav Tzafririm, which borders Adullam Park and has an awesome bike path. You can rent bikes and go on an organized tour with owner Ori Tischler, or you can just ride through Adullam on your own with the help of a map that Tischler himself has prepared to help visitors navigate the park. The map delineates a variety of paths and lists their level of difficulty.
Some of the paths are appropriate for families, others for riders looking for a bit more of a challenge. The paths pass by archeological ruins and historical sites such as Hurvat Madras and Hurvat Burgin. Visitors are not allowed to enter most of the ruins, but it’s still worth stopping just to look in from outside, since you can learn a tremendous amount from them about the history of the region. The bike path goes around the park, making it a great path to travel on foot and look at the ruins. There are plenty of places to stop for a picnic or a rest in the shade.
The path Tischler recommends most highly goes up and down hills and passes through agricultural fields that Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund owns. The path is not too steep, and there are a number of interesting places to stop along the way, so before you know it you’ll have returned to the starting point. It’s not a short path, but it’s still easy enough for families and kids to ride on. And if you decide not to complete the entire loop, the map offers directions on how to return to the starting point.
For the Rosenberg Farm: 052-628-8591.
For information about the bike tours at Adullam Park: 052-386-6544.
Bike rentals cost NIS 60 to NIS 100.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.