It should definitely be mandatory: A glass of wine for every responsible Israeli adult each day. The Jerusalem Wine Festival at the Israel Museum’s Billy Rose Art Garden exhibition area is one of the most popular and happy occasions of the Jerusalem summer landscape. This year’s 10th Season festival ran from August 5-8 and included wines and liquors from over 70 wineries from all over Israel. In addition to wine, a selection of olive oil, cheeses, chocolates, jams and other delicacies were displayed.
For 85 shekel, one purchased their admission plus a wine glass with full rights to sample hundreds of wines from the best vintages in the country, including those from the largest producers to the smallest boutique wineries.
What make this festival unique were both the setting and the atmosphere. The wine displays set up against a backdrop of the city of Jerusalem with the addition of the cool balmy summer Jerusalem night, was romantic, joyful and lots of fun.
This year’s festival included selections from Carmel’s top notch new wines. The new elegant Mediterranean selection, unique blend of Carignan, Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and a little Viognier, was a winner. In addition, the Appellation line of Merlot, Cabernet and Shiraz were both excellent and a great value. Recanati Wines Reserve Cabarnet Sauvignon Lebanese Vineyard was phenomenal.
Tishbi Wineries continued its growth with its wide range and price categories of very fine wines. If one is up in Zichron Yaacov, it’s worth the trip to check out the Tishbi Wine center which includes a fine restaurant, a tasting center and a tour of this family winery. In addition to the wine, Oshra Tishbi’s unique wine jams make for a fantastic fun trip. While in the Zichron area you can also visit the Carmel Winery and the Binyamina Wineries.
A newcomer with a unique story, the Tulip Winery is based on the village of Kfar Tikvah (City of Hope) on the Northern Slopes of Mount Carmel, which was developed for people with special needs. The winery is a source of income for the village with 10% of the proceeds of the Tulip Wines donated to the special needs programs in Kfar Tikvah.
Tepferberg, Binyamina, Dalton and Tabor Wineries had very large displays as did the Golan Winery displaying dozens of different selections. Most important is that Israel has many smaller wineries. They produce excellent wines many of which are award winning selections. Names such as Shiloa, Har Bracha, Har Adar, Yatir, Psagot, Mony, Palter, Kadesh Barnea , Granada and a great little winery Katlav in the Judaen Hills are just a few of the many boutique wines being produced in Israel and either distributed or soon to be distributed in the USA.
Throughout the evening the attendees walked or rather weaved around the exhibition area, some slightly tipsy but all exceedingly friendly and happy. The festival included a music stage and lots of food for sale to complement the wine.
It is said that Israel produces no bad wine. That may or may not be true but for sure Israel today produces large quantities of the finest wines in the world. If you want to have a very happy and exhilitaring experience, make sure you make it to next year’s Jerusalem Wine Festival.