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 visits and provide anything more than wine tasting such as tours and meals.

 

[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 arnoldslyper@inandaroundjerusalem.com.]

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 and can be easily visited at the same time as the nearby Marzipan Factory (see our webpage Marzipan, honey and witches). 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. Directions: Enter “Tabor Winery” into Waze. This is their website.

 

Lotem Winery is a boutique organic non-kosher (i.e,. with no 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 made from fresh products. A visit needs to be booked in advance. Their phone number is 073-394 3305.​ For their website click here.

 

Stern Winery is a boutique non-kosher (i.e. with no kashrut certification) winery located in Kibbutz Tuval in the Beit Hakerem Valley in 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 and this is their website.

The rebirth of Israel’s wine industry

 

Wine production in Israel is described from the time of the Biblical Noah and probably dates from much earlier. The Biblical patriarch Jacob described the future wine production of his son Yehuda in his inheritance as being 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 by now Christian country. In the Muslim period, beginning in the 7th century CE, the wine industry 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) realized that wine production could be a source of income for the Jewish settlements he was financially supporting 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 France, his home country, such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. However, these vines did not grow that well and the demand for them was not that great. Nevertheless, a hundred years later, use of these Bordeaux varieties (i.e. vines from Bordeaux in France) took off. This is why the types of most Israeli wines have French names.

 

Carmel Winery is still the largest winery in Israel. However, over the last 15 years there has been a profusion of smaller quality wineries in Israel, and many of these have won prizes in prestigious international wine competitions.

 

Israeli wines are somewhat expensive compared to countries that produce large amounts of wine and much of this is related to the small 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 in past centuries around wine to reduce gentile social interactions, and these and the Jewish agricultural laws have to be adhered to for a wine to be considered kosher. Kosher wineries are not open 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 bringing 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, which occurs in many chronic diseases, and in particular cardiovascular disease. Resveratrol is found especially in red wines, because their alcohol content aids in the absorption of the resveratrol from the grape skins. Grape skins are not left in the fermentation process during the production of white wine, and white wine contains no 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. 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 part of civilization since its beginnings and is part of a healthy Mediterranean diet.