You had me at Merlot…Winery Tours In/Near Jerusalem

July 15, 2018
By: Joanna Shebson

Winery Tours & Tastings have become a very popular activity request for tourists visiting Israel and the Jerusalem area has some great choices.

The regions surrounding Jerusalem have proven to be the perfect environment for producing world class wines. The elevation, warm days, cool nights, fertile ground and sufficient rainfall have created the perfect combination for some of Israel’s best and most exciting wineries. We’re delighted to take you on a tour through our top picks for wineries and wine experiences in and around Jerusalem.

Tzuba Winery

The Tzuba winery was established in 2005, using grapes that were planted back in 1996 on the historic Kibbutz Tzuba, which is mentioned in the book of Samuel. The winery produces 10 different varieties of red wine and four white wines, with its Metzuda label Chardonnay and Cabernet Merlot being its most popular.

The chief winemaker, Paul Dubb, is a big part of what makes Tzuba so special. He works closely with the vineyard workers and is responsible for every aspect of the winemaking process. Part of Tzuba’s secret is having a high density of planting in the vineyard, one of the highest in Israel. Although this contributes to a low yield of grape, the quality of each grape is significantly improved as a result.

Tzuba is an estate winery, and so only uses grapes grown in their vineyards. They export approximately 40% of their wine globally, sell 30% on the premises and the remaining 30% is distributed throughout Israel.

Visiting Tzuba is a great day out for the whole family. The region itself is beautiful and offers scenic walks and hikes. Right next door to the winery is Kif Tzuba, a kid’s amusement park suitable for all ages. There is also the Galita chocolate factory, which offers chocolate workshops for kids lasting the same length of time as the wine tasting, so the perfect activity for the whole family!

The winery has a visitor center which offers fabulous views across the vineyards. Here you can enjoy wine tastings from the winemaker, Paul, who will tell you all about the winemaking process at Tzuba. It’s recommended to book in advance to make sure Paul is available. Group tours are also offered.

  • Visitors Center
  • Kid friendly activities
  • Kosher
  • Group tours
  • Estate winery
  • Meet the winemaker
  • Event Space for parties
Book a Tzuba Winery Tour

Gush Etzion Winery

The Gush Etzion Winery started from a humble blackberry bush in the gardens of Shraga and Tamar Rozensweig in Efrat. Using the fruits, Shraga created blackberry liquors and developed an interest in fermenting and wine making. Working with the local kibbutzim in the Gush Etzion area, vineyards were then planted across 600 dunams alongside a visitor’s center at the Gush Etzion junction.

Part of the special character of this winery is the combination of the family business with the collective kibbutzim which sit on the very same ground where wine was created for sacramental use hundreds of years ago.

The visitors center includes a kosher fish and dairy restaurant, an events garden, and an
archaeological garden where the whole family can explore the ancient wine press. Another unique activity at the winery is the Jeep Tour through the vineyards combined with tours of the winery and tastings. That’s what makes this wine tour fun for kids as well.

Gush Etzion’s grapes are so special that they sell around 90% of them to other wineries around Israel. The other 10% makes around 80,000 bottles a year, 30% of which are exported globally. The Premium Emek HaBracha (Blessed Valley) range is their most popular wine, but the Lone Oak Label Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are hot favorites too!

Gush Etzion is filled with fun kids activities including Pat Bamelach Bread Workshops, The Workshop Gush Etzion – woodworking Judaica workshop, Zomet Technology Visitors Center, Gush Etzion Jeeping Scavenger Hunt – all a close drive from the Yekev. Contact Gush Tourism for more details on planning your day.

  • Visitors Center
  • Kid friendly activities
  • Kosher
  • Group tours
  • Vineyard Jeep Tours and other activities available
  • Outdoor garden and indoor restaurant can be used for private events
Book a Gush Etzion Winery Tour

 

The Wine Temple

Whilst not technically a winery, the Wine Temple, located in the heart of Jerusalem’s German Colony on Emek Refaim, is definitely a wine experience. Set in the second Templar building built by the Templars in 1874, it’s steeped in history. Used then as a winery to send the holy wine of Jerusalem to their Templar colonies, today it acts as a cellar and home to The Wine Temple which opened in November 2017 to offer a wine tasting experience from wineries across Israel under one roof. Here you can buy from their store, where they say the Yarden range is their most popular.

The Wine Temple offers workshops and wine events including their exclusive “wine flights” which take you through a collection of wines, highlighting flavors and accents you might have otherwise missed.

The Wine Temple is just another example of how seriously Israel is taking its wine making. The reputation is good, and it’s growing!

  • Wine tastings and events
  • Huge range of Israeli wines
  • Kosher
  • Elegant party venue space for private events
Book a Wine Flight

Nevo Winery

The Nevo winery, named after its owner, Nevo Hazan is a small boutique winery tucked away in the hills of the Matte Yehudah region, just outside Beit Shemesh. The founding of Nevo Winery is a remarkable story. Nevo was established back in 1995 when Nevo’s aunt came to stay for a year whilst she was going through chemotherapy. During her time in their home she showed them the art of wine making and slowly this hobby turned into Nevo’s passion and, eventually, full-time occupation.

The winery’s special, family orientated, nature is certainly part of its charm, with Nevo and his family doing all of the work in the vineyards and enlisting local friends to help during harvest season. They have a visitor center where Nevo is available to explain the history of the winery and lead a tasting.

The space is suitable for groups of up to 60 and they can organize catered events upon request. Their on-site wine shop is the only place you can get hold of their top-quality wines, of which their favorite is a 2013 Merlot, which packs a punch! They also make a port-style dessert wine, which involves adding brandy to the mixture and leaving it to age for six years.

The land adds to the character of this winery, where they take great pride in the fact that this is the same land which was used to make wine in biblical times. The Nevo winery is a place to come to if you’re passionate about wine and winemaking and want to hear from the person who takes it from seed to bottle.

  • Visitors center
  • Group tours
  • Kosher
  • Wine tasting
  • Meet the winemaker
  • Party space for private events
Book a Nevo Winery Tour

Busters Beverage Company

Although it’s not exactly a winery we have to be sure to mention Busters Beverage Company because their factory tours are so much fun. Known for their alcoholic cider and lemonade, Busters is a family run business in Beit Shemesh. On a tour of their factory, one of the family members will walk you through the process of creating these delicious drinks and the adults in the crowd get a special tasters flight including ciders and homemade beers.

Tours are FREE on Fridays but require reservations.

Reserve a Busters Tour

Taking Kids on a Winery Tour

Obviously wine tasting is limited to ages 18+ but kids can still learn a lot about the ancient craft of wine making & the modern processes used today. It’s worth bringing them along. It’s important to let the winery know in advance that you will have kids with you so they can be sure to have some beverages for them as well. Some of the wineries even have special kids activities if booked in advance.

Enjoy your tour and make sure to arrange a ride so you can enjoy the tasting. 

Each one of these wineries will give you a different experience, with a slightly different perspective on wine. They all agree, that Israeli wines are no longer the sweet kiddush wines of years ago, but world leading wines recognized internationally.


SUMMER 2018 WINE EVENTS IN/NEAR JERUSALEM


About Joanna Shebson

Joanna is the Founder and FUN Expert at Fun In Jerusalem. What started out as a mommy blog has grown into a successful tourism website. Joanna is married with three kids and lives in Katamon, Jerusalem. She loves to inspire family fun in Jerusalem.

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