November 11th 2014
Ever since the spies of Moses returned to the Israelites’ wilderness camp carrying immense bunches of grapes, the Holy Land has been associated with winemaking.
Today, there are hundreds of wineries in Israel, ranging from tiny and quirky to huge operations that export to dozens of countries. Here are our picks for the top five wineries to visit – these places offer especially compelling tours of innovative and beautiful facilities, and they all have particularly delicious products on offer for tasting too.
If you’re only going to visit one winery on your trip to Israel, we recommend that you enjoy the effort that the Golan Heights Winery puts into taking care of its visitors. They have one of the most comprehensive visitors’ centers and the most diverse touring options of any winery in Israel. The Golan Heights Winery offers four standard tour options, ranging from one to four hours.
There’s wine, and then there’s pomegranate wine. The Rimonim Winery in the Upper Galilee specializes in making
wine from pomegranates. Rimon is the Hebrew name for the pomegranate, and all the wines made in the Rimonim Winery are 100% pomegranate. In private tours and tastings, you’ll learn about the healing, anti-oxidant power of pomegranates. After the tour, visit the wine shop, which is stocked with Rimonim wines, along with all things pomegranate.
Tzora lies nestled in the Judean Hills. The small team of winemakers here believes the location of their vineyards means everything to the wines they produce. Tzora got its start as a kibbutz project and was led to international prominence by Tzora member and prominent Israeli wine scenester Ronnie James.
Visitors to Yatir in the Negev are often astonished to learn that grapes can grow in the desert. In fact, the desert’s climate, with hot, sunny days coupled with cold nights yield grapes with uncommon flavors, and winemaking in the region dates back to Biblical times. Tours can include breakfast in and a drive though the Yatir Forest and a walk through the ruins of the ancient synagogue of Ainim.
Considered one of the most beautiful wineries in Israel, the Galil Mountain Winery’s entire facility is dedicated to maximizing the guest experience. Walking from bridge to bridge, visitors can see the entire production process from above. At Galil Mountain Winery, they take special pride in connecting their modern winery with the ancient winemaking traditions of the region.
Israel’s wine scene is dynamic and eclectic. We recommend visiting more than one winery while you’re here, so you can gain a sense of the distinct approaches of the various vintners and their products. Wine lovers have much to explore in Israel – these five wineries are just the beginning.