Wine Talk

Snooth User: PFeist

Israeli Wines

Posted by PFeist, Sep 17, 2009.

I've recently met Israeli wines up close and personal -- and found the encounter delightful. Toured the Golan Heights Winery in July during an extended business stay in Israel. Very nice. I'm back in the States now, and would like to know if anyone has visited other Israeli wineries, or can suggest some Israeli reds (cab savs, particularly) that they would consider exceptional. I'm familiar with the California wine country (went to school at UC Davis), so comparisons with wines from that venue would be appreciated. Thanks.


Reply by Philip James, Sep 24, 2009.

/bump - i checked through my ratings history and actually dont see any israeli wines rated. I cant believe thats the case, as i certainly remember trying one or two.

Lets see if anyone else can help...

Reply by dmcker, Sep 24, 2009.

Sounds like a subject for a gti, or ariticle--to me, anyway. The Golan Heights, though famous for other things, seem to be a good place to grow grapes...

Reply by shmuel, May 31, 2012.


I just took clients for a very enjoyable tour and tasting at the Golan Heights Winery in Katzrin. When the GHW was started they invited vitners and experts from UC Davis, the chief winemaker is Napa native Victor Schoenfeld. Another tidbit, the GHW is jointly owned by 8 settlements on the Golan, 4 kibbutzim and 4 moshavim that grow grapes (in total they get grapes from more than 20 vineyards on the Golan).

Other Israeli wineries? There are some 200 wineries today in Israel and vineyards in 5 growing regions. There are 7 wineries on the Golan Heights alone. 

As a tour guide I can include wine in your itinerary on your next trip to Israel.


Reply by dmcker, May 31, 2012.

Shmuel, welcome to Snooth! Would be great if you could share some experiences with us in a bit more detail.

I've had a fair volume of GHW wine in the past, mostly under the Yarden label. Theirs might be the most widely distributed Israeli wines on markets around the world. First had in Israel but later in the States and Japan and elsewhere. Lots of chardonnay, some merlot and syrah, even a bubbly, almost all tasty and good value in their price range. Some oak that I have no problem with because of the overall balance. Seem to have developed a custom of drinking Yarden chardonnay with some Italianate pizza on Sunday afternoons here in Tokyo because of the tastes of an Italian friend of mine combined with the wine list of the pizzeria we usually go to in the Roppongi area of town.

What can you tell us about the people and wines from GHW, possibly even some tasting notes? And what other top 5 or 10 wineries from the area can you point us to (especially those that export in findable volumes)?

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 31, 2012.

What other wines besides Israeli wines are available there?  And is there any move to create an appellation system? What outside wine companies/domaines are investing in properties there?

Reply by dmcker, May 31, 2012.

"besides Israeli wines"


Reply by hbreisman, May 31, 2012.

Try Yatir 2008 or 2009 red blend of CS, Merlot and Shiraz. I have had them in Israel and have seen some in California stores. A really excellent wine which shows the maturation of winemaking in israel. Of course there is always Castel which is not cheap (both reds and white) but all I have tried match the highest levels of Europe and California. The "related popular wines" on the list at this site are not among the best Israel has to offer. For safe and less costly wines, try Gewurztraminer from many wineries there. Some of the Golan Heights chardonnays are quite good but one must be selective. Two restaurants in Jerusalem which have good wine lists and very good food are Hehatzir and La Guta. Oddly, they are both within walking distance near Rehov Emek Refaim and Revov Bet Lechem.

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 31, 2012.

dmcker, I was wondering whether the market in Israel is open to wines from elsewhere.  In general, I find that the absence of outside competition tends to lead to complacency, while outside competition in a local wine market keeps the makers on their toes.  To me, it's kind of a sign of the health of the Israeli wine industry that they can stand side by side with offerings from elsewhere.

Reply by Etty Lewensztain, May 31, 2012.

I have heard very good things about Clos de Gat, although I've never tasted their wines. I'm a fan of the Segal's Reserve reds.

Reply by dmcker, May 31, 2012.

"Of course there is always Castel which is not cheap (both reds and white) but all I have tried match the highest levels of Europe and California."

hbrelsman, thanks very much for the tips to both wines and restaurants. Personally, though, while I agree those can be good wines, I think you may have overreached just a bit. Consistency and longevity (or lack of) are just two issues I have with them if they want to play in the leagues they seem to want to. They also are not as easily available around the world, leaving aside the pricing issue.

Sorry, Fox, I thought you were just talking about wines from the Golan. Wondering if somehow you were trying to make some obscure political statement about Syrian wines from there. 

With you on the competition thing. Wonder how avaiable Musar is, for example. Personally I've had plenty of wine from elsewhere (France, CA and around the Mediterranean) there, but that was most often in people's homes and BYOB. Haven't done a lot of shopping for wine over there, especially recently. Could call or FB or whatever a few friends in Tel Aviv and points south, but seems like a bit of trouble at the moment. In a lazy mood today. Too humid over here.

Let's see if this thread gains more legs....

Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 1, 2012.

Etty Lewensztain, I've had two Syrahs from Clos de Gat and both were stunning (Har'El and Sycra), both from Judean Hills.

Otherwise i've recently enjoyued a Viognier/Chardonnay blend from Galil Mountain Winery.

So far, I've enjoyed these wines quite a bit.

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