Vino in the Jerusalem Hills

The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - TOUR ISRAEL - • Text and pho­tos: MEITAL SHARABI

Now is the time for a hike in the part of Is­rael I like to call the Mid­dle East­ern Tus­cany: the Ye­huda Re­gion, stretch­ing from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There are so many great trails, hid­den caves, ar­chae­o­log­i­cal finds, streams and springs. The area is also home to dozens of suc­cess­ful winer­ies. Over the years, more and more vint­ners have re­al­ized that the land in this re­gion is per­fect for grow­ing grapes, and thus an ex­ten­sive bou­tique win­ery in­dus­try has blos­somed.

The tra­di­tional Jerusalem Hills Re­gional Wine Fes­ti­val will once again take place at the end of Novem­ber. On its 20th year, 33 lo­cal winer­ies will come to­gether to cel­e­brate their unique vin­tages and the re­gion, which is a pop­u­lar win­ery des­ti­na­tion. In fact, the Mateh Ye­huda Re­gional Coun­cil is wait­ing to be of­fi­cially rec­og­nized as a trade­mark wine­mak­ing re­gion.

The fes­ti­val’s open­ing event will take place on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 29, at the Yad Hash­mona Coun­try Ho­tel, and all 33 winer­ies will be of­fer­ing wine tast­ings. In ad­di­tion to an ex­cit­ing open­ing even­ing, events will be tak­ing place dur­ing the week­ends of the fes­ti­val. For ex­am­ple, Hadar Win­ery will be host­ing two neigh­bor­ing winer­ies (Agur and Met­tler), and as part of the co­op­er­a­tion, there will be tast­ings from all three winer­ies, as well as mu­si­cal per­for­mances. Week­ends from Novem­ber 30 to De­cem­ber 22. Price: NIS 60.

Kadma Win­ery

One of the par­tic­i­pat­ing winer­ies is Kadma Win­ery, lo­cated in Kfar Uriya.

In op­er­a­tion since 2010, the win­ery was founded by Lina Slutzkin af­ter she left a long ca­reer in hi-tech. Dur­ing a trip to Ge­or­gia, to which she had trav­eled in search of her fam­ily’s roots, Slutzkin dis­cov­ered her love of Ge­or­gian wine and its cul­ture, and set out to learn more about the in­dus­try. Upon re­turn­ing to Is­rael, she quit her job at In­tel and, to­gether with her hus­band, planted their first vine­yard in the Judean Hills. Since then, she has been pro­duc­ing wine in a struc­ture that used to func­tion as a chicken coop. Cur­rently, Kadma pro­duces 14,000 bot­tles a year.

What’s unique about Kadma is how it make its wine, which is fer­mented in large clay jugs that Slutzkin im­ported from Ge­or­gia. No other win­ery in Is­rael em­ploys this an­cient method. In fact, this method is not used much any­where out­side of Ge­or­gia.

The rea­son she chose to con­tinue this an­cient method is that the fer­men­ta­tion process is car­ried out ex­tremely slowly and evenly, and it’s easy to main­tain a con­sis­tent tem­per­a­ture in clay casks. The wine also turns a clearer color faster than wine that is fer­mented in stain­less steel bar­rels.

On the open­ing night of the fes­ti­val, Kadma will also launch its 2016 wines and an­nounce up­com­ing events, such as a Ge­or­gian Shab­bat (De­cem­ber 15), on which guests will learn first­hand how to pre­pare khacha­puri, a tra­di­tional Ge­or­gian dish. Dur­ing the week­end, par­tic­i­pants will be in­vited to join a wine-tast­ing tour (NIS 45) and or­der a plat­ter of Ge­or­gian del­i­ca­cies, in­clud­ing khacha­puri and Ge­or­gian sal­ads (NIS 95). On De­cem­ber 20, Kadma will hold a French even­ing (NIS 100), which will in­clude a glass of wine and tapas.

Ev­ery Fri­day and Satur­day dur­ing the fes­ti­val, tours and tast­ings will take place on the hour.

Pr­ereg­is­tra­tion re­quired: 054-919-5156.

Sea­horse Win­ery

Sea­horse Win­ery at Bar Giora is a great place to pop into for a wine tast­ing and a chat about phi­los­o­phy. Ze’ev Du­nia, who founded the win­ery in 2000, de­scribes him­self as a film­maker turned wine­maker. The only thing Du­nia ap­par­ently loves more than wine is phi­los­o­phy. And although the bou­tique win­ery is not kosher, Du­nia is a great be­liever in Di­vine prov­i­dence, and it’s not dif­fi­cult to drag him into a spir­i­tual con­ver­sa­tion. This is why he be­gan pro­duc­ing wine in the first place, he claims.

It all be­gan in the 1990s, when he de­cided to film a doc­u­men­tary about the wine in­dus­try. Du­nia doesn’t re­mem­ber why he chose to work on this sub­ject mat-

ter, but he does re­mem­ber what it felt like while he was dis­cov­er­ing the world of wine, and that’s why he set out on a new ca­reer.

Du­nia makes only wines that he him­self en­joys drink­ing, and uses only or­ganic grapes that he him­self planted over his three hectares. He’s named all of his wines af­ter peo­ple who’ve had a se­ri­ous in­flu­ence on him. NIS 50 (by ap­point­ment only).

De­tails: 054-484-3495, (02) 570-9834.

Nevo Win­ery

Sit­u­ated in Mata, in the Judean Hills, you’ll find Nevo Win­ery, a fam­ily-owned bou­tique win­ery that pro­duces 12,000 bot­tle a year.

There’s a great story con­nected with the es­tab­lish­ment of Nevo in the early 2000s. Upon hear­ing that his beloved Aunt Leah had con­tracted can­cer, and that she would need to live near the hospi­tal so she could ac­cess treat­ments, Nevo Chazan in­vited her to come live on the fam­ily es­tate. One day, in or­der to take her mind off her ill­ness, he took her for a tour of a vine­yard. While they were walk­ing around to­gether, they picked a few clus­ters of grapes and de­cided to make home­made wine with it.

Nevo built the win­ery with his own two hands, us­ing struc­tures that al­ready ex­isted. Nevo Win­ery pro­duces red, dessert and rosé wines, and in 2019 plans to be­gin us­ing chardon­nay grapes.

Tours, which re­quire pr­ereg­is­tra­tion, last 90 min­utes and cost NIS 65.

De­tails: 052-607-1780.

Home­made meals

You’ll be happy to know that Nevo’s Aunt Leah is healthy and happy and is liv­ing in Tzur Hadas­sah, not far from her nephew. She loves cook­ing and has suc­cess­fully turned her hobby into a thriv­ing busi­ness, in which she in­vites trav­el­ers into her home for au­then­tic home-cooked meals ev­ery Fri­day night.

Af­ter her hus­band died three years ago, she be­gan pre­par­ing these large, Moroc­can-style meals, which she serves in her din­ing room or in the Moroc­can tent in her gar­den. Among the de­lights she pre­pares you’ll find cous­cous, stuffed veg­eta­bles, meat and chicken, olive dishes and lots of sal­ads.

NIS 120 for adults, NIS 60 for chil­dren. Pr­ereg­is­tra­tion re­quired: 052-570-5283.

Vered Terry

In Mata, you’ll find a tal­ented pain­ter and sculp­tor named Vered Terry, who spe­cial­izes in land­scapes. Terry loves paint­ing scenes she re­calls from her child­hood, as well as land­scapes of the Jerusalem Hills.

She loves wel­com­ing guests in her stu­dio, which is lo­cated above her home, and is al­ways ready to tell sto­ries about her his­tory, the re­gion and paint­ing tech­niques. And, of course, her art­work is for sale on site.

Ap­point­ments: 052-654-4662.

WINE AND cheese on of­fer at Kadma Win­ery.

DINE IN the home of Nevo’s Aunt Leah.

KADMA’S vino is unique in that it is fer­mented in large clay jugs im­ported from Ge­or­gia.

LINA SLUTZKIN en­joys a glass while show­ing off a Ge­or­gian jug.

ZE’EV DU­NIA of Sea­horse Win­ery.

ARTIST VERED Terry loves wel­com­ing guests in her stu­dio.

NEVO WIN­ERY pro­duces red, dessert and rosé vin­tages.

FERMENTING WINE.

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