April 25th 2013
It has often been said that a trip to Israel can make the Bible come alive. This is certainly the case for visitors to Ella Valley. The famous battle of David and Goliath, described in Chapter 17 of the First Book of Samuel, took place in the Ella Valley. In that battle, David the shepherd boy, years before he became the mighty King David, killed the giant Philistine Goliath with a single, smooth stone.
Located in the Judean Hills near the modern city of Beit Shemesh, about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, Ella Valley is just four miles long. The Ella River, which runs only during the winter months, flows through the middle of the valley. The valley’s name comes from the terenbinth trees that grow in the region and are called Ella in Hebrew.
As famous for wine as for the battle of David and Goliath, Ella Valley is also an ancient site for vineyards. Today, there are 25 wineries in Ella Valley in an area approximately four square miles large. Ella Valley is home to 20% of Israel’s vineyards. The most well known of the vineyards is called Ella Valley Wineries, which produces 200,000 bottles of premium wine each year.
Another winery worth checking out while you’re in the area is the nearby Mony Winery, situated at the top of the Sorek Valley and on the same street as two other wineries. Located adjacent to the grounds of a Roman Catholic monastery, the winery, now owned by a Christian Arab family, was originally operated by the monks living at Dir Rafat monastery. Around 2000, the monks turned over operation of the winery to private vintners who produce 185,000 bottles of wine each year. All wines from the Mony Winery have been kosher since 2005. The room where wine tastings are held is known for being unusually scenic. Be sure to ask your tour guide to point out the caves that were carved by the Dir Rafat monks.
At the entrance to Ella Valley, the Valley of David project is being planned. When complete, it will include a biblical resort and regular reenactments of the battle of David and Goliath in the Ella Valley.