Wine tasting in the Lower Galilee
The following wineries in the Lower Galilee have a visitor center open during the week for wine tasting. But do call first to check regarding their willingness to accept individual as distinct from group visits, and to provide anything more than wine tasting, such as tours and meals. This list could well be incomplete and it is worthwhile checking other sources.
[This list is incomplete and there are probably other wineries that could be listed. Are you an expert in wines? Would you like to review these and other wineries for this web site? Do write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Tulip Winery is a kosher winery in Kiryat Tivon in the Jezreel Valley. Kiryat Tivon is a home for adults with developmental and emotional disabilities, and members of this community are employed by the winery. The visitor center is open Sunday through Thursday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm and Friday 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. It is closed on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Wine tasting at different levels is offered depending on how many wines are tasted and whether they are premium wines. Wines are served with breadsticks. There is a 20 NIS discount for wine tasting if wines are purchased. A light meal of freshly baked breads, boutique cheeses etc. can be purchased. Visits can be in English or Hebrew. Other than basic wine testing, everything needs to be booked in advance, including their group workshops. Their phone number is 04-983 0573. Directions” Enter “Tulip Winery” into Waze. This is their website.
Tabor Winery is a kosher winery in Kfar Tabor in the Lower Galilee. Its visitor center offers wine tasting and a smorgasbord of breads and cheeses accompanied by music and a panorama of Mount Tabor. It is open 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Sunday to Thursday and 9.00 am to 2.00 pm on Friday and holiday eves. It is closed on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Visits have to be scheduled in advance. Their telephone number is 04-676 0444. This is their website. Directions: Enter “Tabor Winery” into Waze.
Lotem Winery is a boutique, organic non-kosher (i.e., without kashrut certification) winery in a large warehouse at the entrance to Lotem Yishuv. It is open Sunday to Wednesday 11.00 am to 7.30 pm, Thursday 11.00 am to 10.00 pm, and Friday and Saturday 11.00 am to 9.00 pm. Wine tasting is offered and meals that have been made from fresh produce. A visit needs to be booked in advance. Their phone number is 073-394 3305. For their website click here. Directions: Enter "Lotem Winery" into Waze.
Stern Winery is a boutique non-kosher (i.e. without kashrut certification) winery located in Kibbutz Tuval in the Beit Hakerem Valley in the Western Galilee (near Carmiel). Their visitor center is on a mountain peak overlooking the Mediterranean. They offer wine tasting and tours of the barrel room. Their phone number is 072 395-7695. This is their website. Directions: Enter "Stern Winery" into Waze.
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.