THE FASCINATING WORLD OF ISRAELI WINERIES


Who likes wine? Or should I say, who doesn't like wine?! Even my sister Orly, who 3 years ago didn't drink wine at all, is now an expert when it comes to all things related to wine. Thanks to her, I've been introduced to the fascinating world of Israeli wine makers. During my extended stay in Isreal, we visited quite a few wineries.  I even had the honor of meeting several of the founders during some tours.  For your next visit to Israel, I've got your wine experience covered!




 My sister told me Amphorae, is like the Chanel of Israeli wineries.  After our visit, I can understand what she means. The winery is luxurious looking; its an institution where you can expect excellent wine, great stories and a memorable time! Per the conversation we had with their wine expert, Arkadie Papikian, Amphorae's goal is to bring the most respect to Israeli wine makers and also to obtain international awareness and recognition.  Amphorae is actually the only winery in Isreal who employs Michel Rolland--a world renowned French wine consultant.  Mr. Rolland even created his own special edition blend with its founder--Velours 2009 and Velours 2010.


Amphorae produces about 70,000 bottles annually.

Their house specialty wine, Makura, has 3 offerings--Cabernet Sauvigno, Merlot and their house blend.


According to Papikian, like fashion, there is a clear trend in wine as well. The latest one is white wine, more on the drier side.


Papikian has a saying: "Good wine born with a good mood".  And this is the vibe you get the minute you walk in.

The good news is that you don't have to be in Israel to have Amphorae, you can order it online
here.




If you are looking for a great wine experience as well as a social scene, Tishbi is your destination.

In addition to their unique wine, they also have a bakery, a home made chocolate bar, cheeses and a smoked meat truck on weekends. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon and the winery was packed with a beautiful scene of live music and awesome vibes. 




I had the honor of chatting with founder, Jonathan Tishbi (picture above). "There is no place like Israel", Tishbi told me, and I couldn't agree more.  I was captivated by the amazing environment created by the winery.  Tishbi said he started off by hosting wine with friends and soon the entire concept of hosting was born. Today, they have over 1,000 visitors on weekends. 
Tishbi wine can also be ordered online here 

STERN 
I loved hearing the amazing story of the man behind the Stern Empire--founder, Johnny Stern (picture above).  Born in Brazil, on his last day of Israeli service, he saw his friends loading grapes into cars to make wine.  Right there, the initial idea for wine making was born. Stern decided to take it to the next level and try a wine making course.  When he served his first glass of wine to his teacher, he wouldn't drink it. He said that he was too old to drink wine that wasn't good. This motivated Stern to work harder than ever.  Eventually Stern got it right and has been making award winning wine ever since. Stern wines can be found in some of Isreal's best restaurants, wine boutiques and, of course, their winery in Israel.  The Stern Winery was actually the first in Israel to make Cabernet-Franc.  They also won the Top 5 award at Finger Lakes in New York City.  Stern once said, "I only make wine I love."  Perhaps this is one of the secrets to his amazing success.


 Lotem Organic Winery
 Have you ever tasted a glass of wine born and influenced by music?  One of their founders, Yaniv Kimchi did his research and strongly believes that music affects the quality of wine.  For this reason, all Lotem wines listen to music throughout the entire fermentation and aging process!  Also, the naming of all their wines are inspired by musicians.


Lotem is the only winery in Israel that makes organic wine.  Because Lotem wines sold out last year, they doubled their production to 25,000 bottles this year.  Their most popular is Shiraz and Allegro - a light blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc and Nebbiolo.


We visited with my sister and friends and it was unlike anything else I have seen so far.
 It was a relaxing evening, with lots of creative appetizers, such as tuna and watermelon, ceviche, fish shawarma and more. From their balcony, we could see all the way from the sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights to the Lower Galilee.  All the while, we took delightful sips of their wines, graphas and rose and had occasional cat visitors that eventually became part of the view.



The entire concept of visitors' center and the balcony was built by hand by the founders of the winery, Jonathan Koren and Yaniv Kimchi including tables that are made of old barrels.

Lotem has no menu; they cook based on what's available that day at the market, and I love that.



I have been drinking wine for years and always loved good wine. But after being introduced to this entire wine culture in such fashion, hearing all the stories and learning about the process, I appreciate wine so much more. I am very excited to continue exploring this fascinating world of wine and I hope that you do too :)

Cheers!
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