So in my last installment, I wrote about some of the bigger wineries and the tours you can take through them. This time, I want to talk a bit about boutique wineries. Now there about 200 boutique wineries in Israel, so obviously, I will not go through them all. Although if you are interested check out some of Daniel Rogov’s wine guides. Rogov was THE expert on Israeli wine and wrote extensively on the subject until his passing in 2012. Since then, there is a new pdf on the internet with a modern and updated review of Isareli wines called The New Israeli Wine Guide but nothing as comprehensive as Rogov’s work.
Boutique is really a very cool word for “small”. The boutique wineries are technically classified as producing less than 100,00 bottles a year. These wineries are started by people with a passion for wine who often have left other professions to pursue winemaking in Israel. Each winery has a distinct vibe reflecting the owner’s personality and style. Most of these wineries do tours, some by appointment only. A word about the boutique wines, though. Most of us think of Israeli wine and kosher wine as being the same thing. They are not. In fact many boutique wineries are not kosher. So if this is a requirement for you, check the status before you go. The wineries below ARE all kosher, but some of them only recently, so new vintages are kosher but not all their older offerings are.
Bat Shlomo Winery: I almost bought a bottle of Bat Shlomo wine this past weekend, but it was too expensive. This winery is a fabulous place to go. Bat Shlomo is named after Betty Salomon de Rothschild, the mother of Edmund de Rothschild. Graduates of the farming school the Baron de Rothschild founded started the Bat Shlomo settlement in the year 1887. A visit to this winery (by appointment) will take you through the vineyards and let you taste some of the wine. But it’s also a trip through history. The Bat Shlomo winery is extremely connected to their history and the land of Israel. In fact, they recently opened an archeological dig on site, finding evidence of a village dating back to Roman Times.
Flam Winery: This is a family operation. Golan and Gilad Flam started the winery along with their mother Kami. Kami is attributed to being the business force behind the winery. Eventually daugher Gefen and dad Israel, previously head winemaker at Carmel joined the family business. A great thing about these small family owned wineries is that when you visit them you can experience the passion behind the wine.
Domaine du Castel: This is probably one of the most famous boutique wineries in Israel. They put boutique Israeli wine on the worldwide wine map - not just the kosher wine map. Unfortunately, some people still think of kosher wine as being sweet syrup with alcoholic content. Domaine du Castel is helping to change that. This family started out in the restaurant business and grew grapes initially as a hobby, making their first batch of wine in the backyard stable. A famous wine expert in England tasted a bottle and gave the family the encouragement to got to the next level.
Bazelet Hagolan. This winery takes its name from the basalt soil - bazelet in Hebrew. The wine is a reflection of the land. Yoav Levy, the founder, owner and winemaker, began making wine as a hobby. So many boutique wineries started out like this and I think it’s reflected in the wine. It’s a labor of love and passion. Visitors can book tasting tours or take it to the next level and do a food and wine pairing which will take about 2 hours.
Maybe soon I’ll write some more about Israeli wine. At the rate the industry is booming I will not run out of material.