When you are planning to do some touring up in the Golan it is worth including a visit to some of the vineyards that have been planted in the volcanic soil that is unique to this area in Israel and learn about how grapes are grown and harvested. Follow up with a visit to a winery to learn about how wine is made. If you are really into wine I am happy to arrange a wine tour for you.
Golan Heights Winery
I think it’s fair to say that the Golan Heights winery founded in 1983 in the town of Katzrin, high up on the Golan Heights changed the world’s impression of Israeli wines and placed Israel firmly on the international wine map. Unique to Israel, the winery is owned by 4 kibbutzim and 4 moshavim. They manage 16 vineyards on the Golan (and one in the Upper Galillee), from Geshur and Nov which rise above the Sea of Galilee to Odem and El Rom below the snow-capped Mount Hermon, processing 6,000 tons of grapes and producing 6 million bottles of wine annually at 3 levels: Golan, Gamla and Yarden. They are also the parent of Galil Mountain Winery with Kibbutz Yiron.
I can arrange a tour of the facility including a visit to the oak barrel cellar, viewing of the bottling line (when in operation) and of course wine tasting.
Tal Pelter established his boutique winery in 2002, after studying enology in Australia, on the grounds of the family farm in Moshav Zofit near Kfar Saba where he produced four vintages of wine. During the summer of 2005 the winery was transferred to Kibbutz Ein Zivan adjacent to Merom Golan and resulted in a production of approximately 24,000 bottles. Pelter produces a sparkling wine in the traditional way, as well as 3 white wines, a Sauvignon Blanc, an unwooded Chardonnay and a Gewurztraminer, a first of this varietal for Pelter, described as “Sweet peach, liche, melon, citrus on a lively acidic background”. He also produces a series of red wines at two levels from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Shiraz grapes grown on the Golan Heights and the hills of Jerusalem.
At the end of August 2005, Pelter supervised the planting of a new vineyard on the Golan, that he calls Vineyard of the Wind with a view of Mount Bental and the Hermon, 35 dunams (8.75 acres) of vines. Pelter is pursuing his dream of a quality winery on the Golan. I can arrange a visit to the facility for serious wine afficionados.
There are other small wineries on the Golan. In the midst of an ancient oak forest at Odem is the Odem Mountain Winery. Next to a natural spring is the Bazelet HaGolan winery and not far, the Assaf winery. Farther south you’ll find the Bashan Organic Winery and the Chateau Golan Winery. For a complete and up-to-date overview of the wine industry in Israel, I recommend Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines available at bookstores and the Internet.