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Wine tasting in the Golan at Golan Wineries

Terranova Winery

This winery is located in Moshav Kanaf on a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Its wines are vegan and are not supervised kosher. It is open 7 days a week from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm. A visit should be booked in advance, except on Friday and Saturday when no appointment is necessary. Wine and olive oil tasting is available on the courtyard for 40 NIS and can be accompanied by a vegan appetizer plate for 80 NIS. Diretions: Enter into Waze "Terra Nova Winery" and click on "Terra Nova Winery, Kanaf". The phone number is 054 399 3514. This is their Hebrew website.  


Golan Heights Winery

The Golan Heights Winery in Katzrin is a cooperative and Israel’s third largest winery. It was established in 1983 by four Golan kibbutzim and four moshavim. It produces four supervised kosher labels – Yarden, Gamla, Hermon and Golan – each with different varieties. Its usual tour lasts about an hour and includes a visit to the barrel room and a tasting of three different types of wines. There is a charge for this. There are also special tours, such as a Four Seasons Vineyard Tour. It is open Sunday to Thursday 8.30 am to 5.00 pm and Fridays 8.30 am to 2.00 pm, but closed on Shabbat. The address is Derekh HaYayin 4. Enter “Golan Heights Winery” into Waze and click on “Golan Heights Winery visitor center.” Its phone number is 04 696 8435 and this is its website.     


Bazelet HaGolan Winery

This winery is located in Kidmat Zvi in the central Golan not far from Katzrin. Its wines are not supervised kosher. The Visitor Center is open every day, including Saturday, from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm for groups and non-scheduled visits. Snacks of cheese and crackers are offered with the wine tasting. Wine tasting of three wines is 40 NIS. Meals can be ordered on prior request. During a visit, you will learn about the history of the winery and the influence of the Golan’s basalt soil. After fermentation, wines are kept unfiltered in oak barrels. The Visitor Center adjoins a beautiful garden. The winery does not sell budget varieties. Its phone number is 04 696-5010. Directions: Enter “Bazelet HaGolan Winery” into Waze. This is its website. 







Odem Mountain Winery

This winery is in the northern Golan Heights in Moshav Odem close to the Odem Forest and is the northernmost winery in Israel. Its wines are supervised kosher. Its Visitor Center is open Sunday to Thursday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm and from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm on Friday and holiday eves. The cost of wine tasting is from 25 nis to 100 nis depending on your selection. This can be accompanied with a cheese platter, pizza, chocolate, or an assortment of nuts from 45 to 80 nis. There is also fruit picking in season, a petting zoo and hiking trails. Directions: Enter “Odem Mountain Wine” into Waze. Their phone number is 04 687 1122. This is their Hebrew website.


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The rebirth of Israel’s wine industry

Wine production is first described at the time of the Biblical Noah although it probably began much earlier in history. The Biblical patriarch Jacob prophesied that the wine production of his son Yehuda in his future Biblical inheritance would be so plentiful that he would be able to wash his clothes in wine (Genesis 49:1). By the Byzantine period, wine making had become a significant export industry for this now Christian country. In the Muslim period, in the 7th century, wine production came to a halt because of the Islamic prohibition on drinking alcohol. The vines in the country were uprooted and olive trees planted in their stead.

 During the Second Aliya, Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) appreciated that wine production could be a source of income for the Jewish settlements he was supporting financially, and in 1882, at a personal cost of millions of francs, he established Carmel wineries in Rishon le Zion and Zichron Yaakov.  He also brought to then Palestine a number of grape varieties from his own vineyards in his home country France, such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. These vines did not grow that well in Israel and demand for them was not that great. However, a hundred years later, wine production from these Bordeaux varieties (i.e., vines from Bordeaux in France) really took off. This is why most Israeli wines nowadays have French names.

 Carmel Winery remains the largest winery in Israel. However, over the last 15 years there has been a profusion of small, quality wineries in Israel, many of which have won prizes in prestigious international wine competitions.

 Israeli wines are somewhat expensive compared to those of countries that produce large amounts of wine. Much of this is related to the scale of production. Most wines exported are kosher wines and this also adds to the cost.

Wine is almost invariably kosher, but a number of rabbinic enactments were enacted around wine in past centuries to reduce social interactions with gentiles, and these and the Jewish agricultural laws have to be adhered to for a wine to be considered "kosher." Kosher wineries are also closed on Friday night and Shabbat as distinct from many non-kosher wineries.


Recent trends in Israeli wine production are for the wineries to develop their own vineyards, as distinct from using grapes from elsewhere in the country, and to grow new grape species from other Mediterranean countries.

Wine is an extremely healthy food because of its content of anti-oxidants, and in particular its content of the chemical resveratrol. Anti-oxidants are potent protectors from excessive oxidative stress. This occurs in many chronic diseases, in particular cardiovascular disease. Resveratrol is found especially in red wines. This is because the alcohol content aids in the absorption of the resveratrol from the grape skins. Grape skins are not left in the fermentation process in the production of white wine. Therefore white wine contains little resveratrol.

 The protection provided by red wine against cardiovascular disease has been studied scientifically and takes the form of a J-shaped curve. The optimal amount in terms of cardiovascular protection comes from 150 mL or 5 oz of red wine per day. Excessive wine drinking may be harmful. Because of the risk of alcoholism, wine drinking is not part of the recommendations of the American Heart Association, but modest wine drinking has been a feature of civilization since its beginnings and can be part of a healthy Mediterranean diet.

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