The “Do Not Miss List” of Israeli Wineries and Vineyards

With a temperature similar to that of California (in the northern regions of Israel), it should come as no surprise that boutique and industrial wineries are on the rise. This region has a historical tie to wine, and we all know that the Jewish people prize this drink. However, in the past couple of decades there has been a large transformation taking place. Israel has shifted from a country that produces wine (and a few good ones), to a country that is producing many lovely, delicious, and unique wines.

Bellow we have created a list of our favorite wineries, vineyards, and a few bottles that you will need to pick up at the store (not ever where here offers tours and tastings). We have tasted over 52 bottles in the past year, we are still working our way through. So be sure to check back as the list is bound to grow.

Our Key
*Worthy for a celebration
^Perfect for the dinner table

*Dadah, We fell in love with this wine at a very unusual tasting event that took place at a gas station. Though, admittedly, by the third table, we did not care about the fuel fumes any longer. It was one of the last wineries we tried, taking our time, sipping, talking, joking, and mainly laughing with the wine maker. Upon first taste of the Malbec-Barbara, 2009 ,we were in love.  A few days later we went back to our little wine shop, around the corner from our apartment and hoped for the best. Knowing that it was one of the last wines we tried after a long night of drinking, we only hoped that it would be as good as we remembered. To our delight (and surprise) it was even better! And don’t worry, after having opened our first bottle of the Barbara-Malbec, 2010, last weekend, we can assure you that the newest vintage is even a little better (if possible)!

*Chateau Golan, Golan Heights, We tasted here at 10 AM, not a bad way to start a morning, before our weekend hike. We were smitten by the their Syrah and Merlot. Though our favorite turned out to be the Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape that we love but does not usually provide our “go to” wines. Their tasting room in small, with a charming cellar bellow that also hosts dinner parties and small functions. Another fun thing about their winery is that they, while they have vineyards across the region, they also have a small vineyard in front of the winery itself that acts as a rose garden, with labels of all the grape varietals.
Hours: Open 7 days a week, between 08:30-16:00
Tastings do require reservations, call 972.4.6600026
Moshav Eliad, Ramat Hagolan 12927, Israel

*^Dalton, With a good tour and an excellently lead tasting, this is the place to come for wine tasting. From beginners to the well trained, they will be able to offer an explanation for all ears. The wines are diverse, with a few vineyards across Israel, their production starts at the soil and ends in the bottle. We personally love their red wines, including their more affordable “Dalton” line – Shiraz, Merlot, and a few other great steals!
(Kosher, offer tastings – go, it’s fun!)
Hours: Sun – Thurs. 10:00-16:00, last tour is at 16:00 . Fridays 10:00-13:00, last tour is at 13:00
Located on Highway 886, west of Tzfat

*Yarden, In general, I (Sara) am bias and tend to be against industrial wineries, but we have to add Yarden to our list for two simple reasons: their Viognier and (white) Dessert Wine (2010, if there is more information on the bottle than that, then I am missing it due to my still lacking Hebrew). These two wines are become our constant go-to gift when traveling back home to the USA.
(Kosher, tours available)

^Tabor, Tzachi and I delightfully surprised by this winery at the tasting for our wedding. Honestly, we are not too big of fans of the chardonnay, but then again, we tend to not be much of chardonnay drinkers. However, the merlot and cabernet sauvignon were wonderful, with the merlot being a little complex but well rounded and the cab just a little heavier and bolder. As for their whites, we loved the fruity feel of the Roussanne, perfect for an afternoon picnic on a hot summer day.
(Kosher, offer tastings – but we have not gone)

^Tishbi, The vineyard is very well known and located less than an hour north of Tel Aviv. With an array of wines it is a hit or miss based on your taste. When tasting, I (Sara) found a few of their reds good, but nothing as a personal favorite. However, I have heard wonderful things about the chocolate and jam they sell.
The little secret I do want to share with you though is located in a small room, next to their restaurant. If you bring empty wine bottles, you can come and fill your bottle with Cabernet Sauvignon for only 18 shekels. The wine is only a little over a year old, aged only in steal barrels, but for a cooking wine or just a simple glass with dinner (when you know you don’t want to open that really, wonderful expensive wine when your only craving a glass) it is perfect.
Located on Highway 652, just north of the Binyamina Junction

Here is a list of well known wineries that we have yet to review. Stay posted though, as we are sure to have a few new favorites after this coming month of wine tasting!

  • Margalit Winery, Caesarea/Upper Galillee
    open to public in the spring time
  • Clos de Gat, Ayalon Valley
    by appointment only
  • Domain Du Castel, Judean Hills
    by appointment only
  • Katlav, Judean Hills
    Sun. – Thurs. 10 – 5, Fri. 9 – 2
  • Tzora, Judean Hills
    Sun. – Thur. 10 – 5, Fri. 9 – 2
  • Avidan, Central Sharon Region
    Fri. & Sat. 11 – 4, weekdays by appointment only
  • Shoshana Boutique Winery, Atlit
    by appointment only
  • Bazelet HaGolan, Golan Heights
    Sun. – Fri. 9 – 3, call ahead
  • Assaf Winery, Golan Heights
    Daily 11 – 4, call ahead

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s