Wine Tasting in the Land of Samson

August 12th 2012

Wine Tasting in the Land of Samson

Located between the rim of Judean Hills and the Coastal Plain of Israel, the Samson region was home to modern Israel’s first winery, Carmel’s Rishon Lezion facility. Named for the biblical figure of Samson, the area is rife with history, but it also includes the greater metropolitan Tel Aviv area, the country’s thriving population center. Today it is the country’s second-largest wine region and home to a number of wineries from family-run boutique operations to major players, all of whom are producing a range of styles.


The second-largest winery in Israel, Barkan is easily one of the most recognizable Israeli wine labels both within the country and abroad. Although they have vineyards in nearly every corner of Israel, they are building a new, state-of-the-art visitor’s center for tourists to visit at their location on the Hulda Kibbutz, not far from Rehovot. The Hulda vineyard is the largest in Israel, and the new center will include a professional wine library, tasting room and museum.

While you’re in the area, visit the Hulda Forest (the first built by the JNF in Israel) and Herzl House, where you can take a short hike and tour the villa dedicated to a Zionist hero.


Just about a 15-minute drive east from Hulda in Karmei Yosef, Bravdo Winery was founded in 1999 by a viticulture expert, Professor Ben Ami Bravdo, and his former student, Professor Oded Shoseyov. The Shoseyov family claims to have grown wine grapes on the estate since the time of Solomon. Today the pair employs technology and a unique fermentation process in their boutique winery, where they produce four red wines and one white. Set amidst the vineyards, the picturesque visitor’s center is a wonderful place to kick back and sample a few vintages.

From the winery, make your way to tour Tel Gezer, a fascinating archeological site that was once a Canaanite city-state.

Red Poetry

Producing about 12,000 bottles a year (most of them red), Red Poetry is a family-owned, boutique winery on Tal Farm near Karmei Yosef. Established by Dovi Tal (a fourth generation wine grower), his wife Orna and his son Guy in 2001, the winery also grows various “stone fruits,” figs and even guavas. The grapes are hand-picked, and the wine is aged in oak barrels. Although they don’t have a big, fancy visitor’s center, they offer tastings and welcome guests by appointment, making them feel at home.

Afterwards, head to Ya’ar HaMeginim (The Defenders’ Forest), a beautiful natural space that has archaeological sites and artifacts as well as memorials for fallen IDF soldiers throughout.


Located on a moshav (cooperative farm) named Meishar, near the coastal port city of Ashdod, the Meishar Winery is a family-run, boutique winery. Founded in 1991 by Ze’ev and Chaya Smilansky, the winery is unusual in Israel in that it relies entirely on its own vineyards to produce its 10,000 or so bottles of wine per year. The tight-knit family does all the work itself, from planting and pruning to harvesting and crushing, and from aging to bottling. Tours and tastings can be arranged by appointment here.

Be sure to stop in Ashdod, where you can stroll by the beach, enjoy fine restaurants, get some culture at the arts center, and more.


One of Israel’s first boutique wineries, Soreq is located between the Ayalon and Soreq Valleys on Moshav Tal Shachar. Founded by the Shacham Family in 1994, they produce fewer than 10,000 bottles per year so they can focus on quality over quantity.

In addition to the winery, Soreq also boasts a viniculture school, which combines theoretical study with hands-on training. Check out their visitor’s center for a tour of the vineyard and school, as well as a guided tasting of their wines.

For some exercise, check out the nearby Rabin Park, where you can rent bikes and run, hike, or bike along numerous trails.