The French have been at it for centuries, if not more. So have the Italians and the Germans. Americans: not quite so long, but close to two centuries. The Israelis? Well, certainly they’ve been at it since the 19th century, but in terms of quality winemaking? 25 years. You could say that quality wine making in Israel made a giant leap forward when Victor Schoenfeld, a product of UC Davis’ Viticulture school, made aliyah and took over the reigns at the venerable Golan Heights Winery back in 1992. Sure, there were others before him, but Schoenfeld moved things forward tremendously.
Part of being a quality winemaker is understanding what grows well in the conditions provided. We are often asked if there is a good Israeli Pinot Noir that we can offer in our shop. Pinot Noir doesn’t grow well in Israel; Israel’s Mediterranean climate is not suitable for this fickle grape.
So what does excel in Israel? Several grapes, but the one we have been excited about of late is Syrah. Depending on where in Israel the grape is planted (Judean Hills/Negev Desert/Golan Heights/Galilee) you will notice different influences of soil and climate.
The Upper Galilee is arguably the best appellation in all of Israel (maybe Judean Hills is a whisker shy?!) High altitude along with cooler climate vineyards are present here in abundance. The soils are a mixture of volcanic, along with rocky gravel and terra rossa.
This is where Jezreel Valley Winery is located, specifically at Kibbutz Hanaton. We had opportunity recently to try several selections, and were delighted when we tried the winery’s 2014 Syrah. This wine is absolutely world class, a medium-full bodied seductive wine, with delightful black berry components, complimented by sweet tannins.
Based on our tasting we are delighted to carry the 2014 Jezreel Valley Syrah, and have aggressively priced it at $36.50. Kosher and Vegan, too! (no animal products used in the winemaking process.) It’s a beauty, perfect for your Rosh HaShana/Sukkot table.
Cheers & L’Chayim.