Wine & Touring the Carmel Region

July 24th 2012

Seeing Sights and Sipping Wine in the Carmel Region

If syrupy Passover wine is all that comes to mind when you think of Israeli or kosher wine, then you’re missing out. Take advantage of your tour to Israel to visit some of the country’s world-class wineries in between the local sites. The area surrounding Mount Carmel, the country’s largest wine growing region, conveniently lies between Haifa and Netanya, making it the perfect area to sip and sightsee.

Set in the charming town of Zikhron Ya’akov at the foot of Mount Carmel, the Carmel Winery is modern Israel’s oldest and largest winery. Founded in 1882 by French Zionist Baron de Rothschild, today they turn out about 15 million bottles of wine per year. Their Center for Wine Culture is complete with a restaurant, tasting rooms, a well-stocked wine shop and accessible historic cellars where guests can sample the wines and take a tour. The Carmel Winery produces a number of wines under a few different labels, so there’s plenty to taste! While you’re there, walk around Zikhron Ya’akov and enjoy the cute shops and restaurants in one of the first Jewish settlements in modern Israel.

Just down the road, family-owned Tishbi is the fifth-largest winery in Israel, producing over 1 million bottles every year. Although the winery was only built in the 1980s, the Tishbi family has been growing grapes and working on vineyards in Israel since 1882. Their welcoming visitor’s center includes a kosher dairy restaurant featuring local cheeses, a wine store and a newly built, very popular Valrohana chocolate and wine tasting center (the first such center in Israel).

Continuing along the wine route, Binyamina is also a must visit for wine lovers. Established by Hungarian-born Joseph Zeltzer in 1952, it is today one of the country’s leading wineries. Although they have vineyards around the country and produce wine under five labels, their winemaking centers in the town of Binyamina, where visitors can learn about the process of making wine, visit vineyards and, of course, sample their vino. Once you’ve gotten your fill of wine, visit the nearby Museum of Illegal Immigration in Atlit, which tells the story of the Jewish immigrants who came to Israel illegally during the British Mandate.

For a completely unique experience, visit Tulip Winery in Kfar Tikva (Village of Hope), a community that embraces special needs individuals. Tulip employs members of the settlement, making them a philanthropic organization as well as an award-winning winery. Enjoy a sampling of their nine wines at their lively visitor’s center and wine bar while supporting a great cause. On your way from the Mount Carmel wineries to Tulip, stop in the gorgeous port city of Haifa, nicknamed the Capital of the North, to see the Bahai Gardens and other sights.

Finally, don’t be misled by the ancient-sounding name Amphorae – this winery has developed a reputation for being technologically advanced. With the aim of being “green,” solar energy systems supply most of the energy for the winery and they recycle and filter their waste water. Besides that, they produce sensational wines, some of which can only be tasted at the visitor’s center. Here, we can learn about winemaking and tasting, tour the wine production facilities and wine cellar, and taste their top quality wines. While you’re there, visit the adjoining Makura Farm, which specializes in organic orchards and olive oil.