Israel Wine Trail
Israel is a land of unlimited possibilities: unlimited potential, unlimited variety, and unlimited passion. Israel is the land of the Bible: the land of David and Saul, Solomon and Herod, Jesus and Salah a Din. For a thousand years, this small land, located at the intersection of Europe, Africa and Asia produced and exported a culture of wine to the world. Modern Israel ‘s wine renaissance and its vibrant wine industry is once again recognized as a global leader.
Israel’s Wines are On the Map-Kenes Tours Invites You to Imbibe in the Best of Israel with our Full-Bodied Wine Tours!
Today, Israel is literally covered with some of what are recognized internationally as the best wineries in the world. These wineries, operated by local winemakers passionate about their craft and inspired to innovate, often open their doors to tourists-offering guided tours, tastings, and workshops which help orientate visitors to better understand the wineries’ and vineyards’ history and current operations while providing parallel knowledge regarding their respective regions and Israel in general. Many of Israel’s wine-producing areas, but specifically the Galilee, Golan Heights, and Judean Hills in particular have been recently recognized by Wine Spectator Magazinefor their prowess and diversity. In fact, this year Condè Nast Traveler has ranked Israel as the #3 hottest wine destination, solidifying Israel as a ‘must-visit’ country for true wine aficionados.
In additional to having a firm tradition for making the finest quality products, Israeli wineries have created a splendid marriage between time-honored methods and modern day technologies and innovation to create truly exquisite varieties that you won’t find anywhere else.
- Sitting on the ancient hidden remains and terraces of an ancient Nabatean vineyard at Carmey Avdat Winery in the Negev desert, where excellent wines are produced by utilizing production methods consistent with desert ecology, and in so doing acquire a unique desert aroma and taste.
- Visit Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev desert and hear the story of its settlement in the desert as an equal society and learn about its most famous member, Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.
- Visit the special mountain village of Kfar Tikva, a unique model of community living in Israel which encourages people with disabilities and special needs to develop and realize their potential. Located in the village, Tulip Winery takes special care to employ residents of the community in its wine production while encouraging involvement and promotion of joint activities. Alongside producing many fine and full-bodied wines, Tulip Winery has become Israel’s largest boutique winery.
- Visit the charming town of Zichron Yaakov, founded by the pioneers with the generous assistance of the Baron Rothschild. The town has a long-standing heritage of winemaking expertise.
- Visit the mystical city of Safed and explore the sights of the Sea of Galilee
- Eat lunch at Moshav Tal Shahar’s Shvil HaEzim (Goat Trail) organic farm, complete with a boutique tasting of their locally grown goat cheeses.
- Amongst the finest terroir in the Judean Hills, Tzora Vineyards owns several different vineyards, each with varying soils and meso-climates. Visit the winery and meet with founder Ronnie James and winemaker Eran Pick and discover their passion for their craft as you taste the prolific wines produced here.
- Located on the slopes of Mt. Meron, visit Or Haganuz Winery. Winner of the prestigious international ‘Terravino’ prize for world’s best boutique winery, you will have an opportunity to learn about the kosher winemaking process and taste some of their wines.
- Enjoy a tour and tasting at the Golan Heights Winery. Learn how this iconic Golan institution has played a central role in strengthening Israel’s international brand as a global player in the industry.
- Participate in a thrilling Jeep Tour in the Golan Heights.
The Negev Trail-A Rustic Taste of the Desert
- At dawn, journey south through the rugged vistas of the Negev, passing Israel’s ‘Chavot Habodedim,’ or ‘Lone-standing farms.’
- Pausing near the famous Kibbutz Sde Boker of Ben Gurion lore, we begin our day tasting a variety of locally grown and seasonal varietals at the Boker Valley Vineyards Farm.
- Proceed through the Negev highlands to visit the Kornmehl Goat Cheese Farm, where we will meet with French-trained goat cheese makers Anat & Daniel Kornmehl; Taste their personal interpretations of famous French varieties set amongst ancient remnants of farming terraces dating back to the Bronze age.
- Drive to Kibbutz Sde Boker and hear the story of this unique community’s settlement of the desert as an equal society, and learn about its most famous member, Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.
- Visit the picturesque burial site of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion looking out towards the breathtaking view of the biblical stream of Zin.
- Enjoy a home hospitality lunch with members of the Kibbutz.
- Next, visit the Sde Boker Winery. Established in 1999, this local winery produces up to 6,000 bottles per year using the finest locally grown Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, & Carignan grape varieties.
- Continue to the ancient Nabatean city & fortress of Avdat. See firsthand how this unique and vanished civilization once flourished amongst the most difficult conditions of the desert, and see evidence of their once vibrant wine industry by viewing their ancient wine press.
- Sitting on the ancient hidden remains and terraces of a Nabatean vineyard, Carmey Avdat Winery produces excellent wines utilizing production methods consistent with desert ecology which acquire a unique desert aroma, making them choice vintage varieties.
Mountain Mists & Sea Breezes-The Carmel Mountain & Coast
- The iconic Carmel’s proximity to the sea gives the mountain plenty of precipitation, which enable the growth of Mediterranean groves-giving the region the moniker of the ‘Evergreen Mountain’.
- Visit the special mountain village of Kfar Tikva, a unique model of community living in Israel which encourages people with disabilities and special needs to develop and realize their potential. Located in the village, Tulip Winery takes special care to employ residents of the community in its wine production while encouraging involvement and promotion of joint activities. Alongside producing many fine and full-bodied wines, Tulip Winery has become Israel’s largest boutique winery. Tulip Espero Galilee 2013: 90 pts.
- Visit the charming town of Zichron Yaakov. Founded by the pioneers of the First Aliya with the generous assistance of the Baron Edmund James de Rothschild in 1882, the town has a long-standing heritage of wine-making expertise.
- Visit the Tishbi Estate Winery, known as one of Israel’s leading exporters of award-winning vintages. Experience the visitor’s center where you can taste a variety of their wines and boutique chocolates, followed by a lunch prepared using local ingredients.
- Continue to the nearby picturesque Ramat HaNadiv reserve and gardens to learn about the tremendous impact that the generosity of the Rothschild family has had on the success of the region. Visit its manicured gardens and see the ancient water facilities located on site.
- Drive to the quaint town of Binyamina, located in the Carmel’s coastal plain and hear the story of its founding generation who sacrificed to build a village worth of its namesake, Benjamin Rothschild.
- Visit the Margalit Winery and meet with founder and vintner Yair Margalit who creates beautifully balanced and structured Bordeaux varieties. Margalit Enigma Israel 2011: 89 pts.
- Travel to the historic Nachsholim Glass Factory located on the coast and enjoy its unique museum of regional marine archaeology set in an old wine bottle factory.
- End the day amongst the intimate surroundings of the Somek Estate Winery, which operates under the ‘Old World’ philosophy and belief that the region’s special terroir produces wine grapes of exceptional quality. Somek Grenache-Mourvèdre Shomron 2011: 88 pts.
Judean Hills- Israel’s Premier Wine Country
- Located in the center of the country between the coastal plain and Jerusalem, the Judean Hills form both the geological and historical backbone of Israel. Its warm summers and relatively cool winters, the region’s elevation, prime soil conditions, and proximity to the capital have all contributed towards firmly establishing this area as the historical center of winemaking from ancient times until today.
- Visit the renowned Barkan Winery visitor’s center, located adjacent to the main vineyards at Hulda for a tasting workshop. While there, we will meet with winemaker Irit Boxer-Shank and discuss what makes her so passionate for creating unique wines under difficult conditions. Barkan Chardonnay Judean Hills Special Reserve 2012: 91 pts.
- Encounter some of the finest wines that this pastoral region has to offer at Clos de Gat Winery, located in the fields of its Harel Vineyards in the Ayalon Valley. Here, the region’s rolling hills and valley have supported grape cultivation for thousands of years, as evident by the ancient ‘Gat’ (winepress) predating the Roman period and whose age is estimated to be over 3,000 years old. Clos de Gat Cabernet Sauvignon Judean Hills Har’el 2013: 90 pts/Clos de Gat Chardonnay Judean Hills 2013: 90 pts.
- Nearby, we stop at the Soreq Winery at Kibbutz Nachshon, which houses Israel’s premier winemaking academy. We will meet with its director and hear how this institution has been instrumental in fostering the collective knowledge of a generation of Israeli winemakers.
- Enjoy lunch at Moshav Tal Shahar’s ‘Shvil HaEzim’ (Goat Trail) organic farm, complete with a boutique tasting of their locally grown goat cheeses.
- Drive through the ‘Presidents’ Forest’ park via its ‘sculpture path’ of specially created artworks crafted from the area’s locally excavated limestone. Nearby, we will visit the tomb of Samson, which contains an ancient grape press used in the production of wine during the Roman period.
- Enjoy a tour and tasting at the critically acclaimed Domaine du Castel Winery, located in the village of Yad Hashmona. Meet with winemaker Eli Ben Zaken and hear the interesting story of how without any formal training, he built and sustained this family owned and operated winery from a simple hobby to the award winning business it is today. Domaine du Castel Grand Vin Haute-Judèe 2012: 88 pts. /Domaine du Castel Haue-Judèe C Blanc du Castel 2013: 88 pts.
- Ronnie James had spent years to allocate the finest terroir in the Judean Hills, west of Jerusalem. Today, Tzora Vineyards owns several vineyards, each with varying soils and meso-climates. Meet with Ronnie and winemaker Eran Pick and discover their passion for their craft as we taste the prolific wines produced here. Tzora Misty Hills Judean Hills 2013: 93 pts./Tzora Judean Hills White 2014: 92 pts./Tzora Judean Hills 2014: 91 pts.
Upper Galilee-Tuscany in the Middle East
- Located in Israel’s far north, the Upper Galilee is home to an incredible amount of diversity. From biblical sites, quaint rural communities in the hills and valleys, nature reserves, and a vibrantly diverse multi-ethnic carpet of people, this region is both a tranquil and exciting place.
- Drive to the Sea of Galilee
- Visit the ancient city of Capernaum, site of a Roman-era fishing town inhabited by Jews and central to the story of Christianity. In the Church of Loaves & Fishes, see the mosaic floor featuring symbols of winemaking and agriculture as central to the local economy then as they are now.
- Tour the First Aliya town of Rosh Pina, founded in 1882 under the auspices of the Rothschild family. Hear the story of its pioneer generation and stroll along its quaint cobblestone alleyways. Visit the local Meister Winery.
- Continue up the road to the city of Safed, known for its history of mysticism and cultivation of the Kabbalah.
- Enjoy a tour and tasting at the nearby Dalton Winery, set amongst the exclusive cooling hills of the ‘Merom Hagalil’ micro-climate region. Dalton Alma Galilee 2012: 88 pts.
- Next, continue to slopes of Mt. Admon and the Adir Winery to participate in an interactive wine workshop and delicious local lunch.
- Located on the slopes of Mt. Meron, visit the scenic communal village of Or Haganuz and its Or Haganuz Winery. Winner of the prestigious international ‘Terravino’ prize for world’s best boutique winery, we will have an opportunity to learn about the kosher winemaking process and taste some of their wines. Or Haganuz Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Marom 2013: 90 pts.
- Enjoy dinner and a culinary workshop at Roberg restaurant, overlooking the panoramic vista of the Sea of Galilee and neighboring Golan Heights.
The Golan Heights – An Oenophile’s Paradise
- Best known for its military history and strategic position located on the modern border with neighboring Syria, the Golan Heights also merit notable international recognition as a wine lover’s paradise. The relatively cool and wet climate of this micro-region combined with its location on the slopes of Israel’s tallest mountain, Mt. Hermon create conditions for near-perfect grape growing terroir.
- Visit the region’s capital Katzrin and learn about the unique history of the region at the Golan History Museum, featuring a unique collection of authentic artifacts spanning from the Stone Age until today.
- Enjoy a tour and tasting at one of Israel’s most prolific and well-known award winning wineries, the Golan Heights Winery. Learn how this iconic Golan institution has played a central role in strengthening Israel’s international brand as a global player in the industry. Golan Heights Winery Gewurztraminer Galilee Yarden Heights Wine 2012: 90 pts./Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Yarden El Rom Vineyard 2011: 89 pts.
- Enjoy a delicious lunch at Bell Ofri at the Ein Nashot Winery, where all of the ingredients are hand-crafted and served in the rustic setting of this family owned farm. Afterwards tour the farm and learn about life in the Golan.
- Next, we ascend the nearby face of the Golan Heights as we travel to the ancient volcano of Mount Bental. From here we shall be afforded a majestic overlook into neighboring Syria and discuss the tragic human aspects and dynamic geo-political implications of the ongoing Syrian civil war.
- Afterwards, participate in a thrilling jeep tour of the Golan Heights! Stopping at important locations along the way, we will learn about the history of Israel’s conquest of the strategic plateau during the Six Day War, its retention of it during the Yom Kippur War, and hear why despite efforts to the contrary, the Israeli consensus is to hold on to the region in any future peace accord.
- End the day at Kibbutz Ein Zivan’s Pelter Winery, which crafts diverse and high-quality wines influenced by Australian concepts and attitudes. Here, brothers Tal & Nir Pelter use grapes of the same variety grown in different locales to enrich the depth and diversity of their wines. Bonus: Visit the Pelter Distillery, where craft spirits are created using local ingredients such as Golan apples and Majhoul dates! Matar Chardonnay Galilee 2014: 91 pts./Matar Cumulus Galilee 2013: 90 pts./Pelter Chardonnay Galilee Unwooded 2014: 89 pts.
*Itinerary is subject to change pending circumstances beyond our control*