The insider’s guide to Israel’s hidden wineries
Israel is home to some of the most exquisite wineries in the world, each with its own fascinating story, rich heritage, and unique method of cultivating the Israeli grape. Globally educated winemakers descended upon the land to rediscover its origins and intertwine tradition with innovation to bring old world knowledge into the new age through an unparalleled panorama of production techniques. From the luscious greenery and rolling hills of the Golan Heights to the dry and arid Negev, each winery has fine-tuned the art of viticulture to produce award-winning wines, leading Food and Wine to crown Israel as “One of the most exciting wine-producing countries in the world”.
As many travelers wet their whistle at some of the better-known wineries, the true connoisseurs seek a more authentic tasting experience by pioneering vineyard owners who have harvested and nurtured the land in diverse terroirs. Here, we reveal some of Israel’s wineries that are simply diamonds in the rough. Get an intimate, informative, and enchanting tour, bask in the breathtaking views, and sip on an array of opulent flavors, pressed and produced from Israel’s exceptional grapes.
Located in the lush landscape of the Galilee lies the unassuming family-owned Dadah Winery. Vineyard veteran Jackie Hazan founded the winery in 2007 together with Nehemiah Katbi, who drew their inspiration from Hazan’s great grandmother, a powerful Moroccan woman with a great passion for making wine for the Jews of Marrakech in the 20th century. Paying homage to the matriarch, Hazan named the winery after his great grandmother and traded the meandering alleys of Marrakesh’s vibrant souk, set in front of the imposing Atlas mountains for the Galilee’s forested hills and soothing sounds of wildlife at the nearby farm.
Nestled away among oak and olive trees, take a tour of the winery, and learn about the flora and fauna of the area before sitting in the relaxed setting of the patio while sampling Dadah’s excellent wines and original blends. Listen to stories from the owners in the intimate setting and gain insight into how they exude their Moroccan roots and flavors into Israeli wine.
Tucked away in a green oasis among the vast and boundless Negev lies Nana winery. 800-meters above sea level and a stone’s throw from the spectacular Ramon crater, this winery is anything but ordinary. Owner and passionate viticulturist Eran Raz saw the limitless potential of the desert and after finding evidence of ancient terraces in the desert hills, he planted vines in 2007, leading to the creation of Nana in 2016. The Nana Estate provides the authentic desert winery experience through intimate tastings and tours featuring a dramatic juxtaposition of vibrant green vines against the ethereal magic of the Negev.
Learn about the winery’s origins and its unique production process, sit back and absorb the magnificent views, or head to the tasting room for a more traditional setting to sample aromatic and robust wines, including cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and châtein blanc.
Carmey Avdat Winery
In the heart of the Negev Highlands lies Carmey Avdat Winery and ecological farm. Set on the remains of a 1500-year old agricultural settlement on the path of the ancient Spice Route, this thriving family winery originated from the Nabateans over 2,000 years ago. Protecting the ancient terraces while injecting elements of modern-day winemaking, the vineyard is irrigated by floodwaters, practicing the same techniques of those implemented by the desert nomads.
After hand-harvesting their first yield in 2002, owners Hannah and Eyal Israel revered the unique land and brought their family into the business to partake in the meticulous winemaking process. Experience the beauty, tranquility, and serenity of Carmey Avdat while touring the winery, ancient ruins, and natural pools dotted around the site. Sit inside the rustic tasting room or the inviting terrace overlooking the vines while sampling the fine merlots and cabernet sauvignons with salty, desert undertones, perfectly paired with creamy cheeses produced at the local farm.
A jewel of the Judean Hills, the Tzora estate is nothing less than magnificent. Flanked by nature reserves and rugged terrain, this perfectly manicured vineyard possesses the ideal conditions for growing quality grapes in the most picturesque of landscapes. Founded by passionate vintner Ronnie James, the Israeli pioneer of terroir was awarded the Golden Bunch “Eshkol Hazahav” award for his extraordinary expertise on Israeli wines and his outstanding contribution to Israeli wine culture.
Under the skilled direction of winemaker Eran Pick, every bottle of wine is infused with hand-picked and carefully selected fruits grown within the estate to extract the boldest and richest flavors from each blend. Gain a historical overview of the vineyard before enjoying the cellar door experience, pairing locally produced olive oil, cheese, and bread with exquisite cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay while sitting in the modern tasting rooms or the secluded garden.