12th Annual Judean Hills Wine Festival

The Judean Hills Wine Club invites you to get to know the wineries in this area through a variety of events, hikes and activities, culminating in a wine tasting festival at the end of the month. Yonatan Sternberg tells you why it is worth checking this one out...

The Judean Hills is considered by many to be one of Israel’s top wine regions. After recently sampling some excellent wines produced by local wineries, I now understand why.

Over the past 15 years many new players have joined the local wine industry and today the region is home to some of Israel’s top wineries. A few years back, owners and winemakers partnered to establish a Judean Hills wine club, active in promoting Israeli wine culture.

The Judean Hills Wine Club will be participating in a regional tourism campaign, which includes various events, organized nature hikes, vineyard tours and other activities taking place throughout the entire month of October. The festival will reach its climax at a wine tasting festival held on the 28th and 29th at "Leilot Can'an" in Kibbutz Tzora, only a 20 minute drive from Jerusalem and approximately 25-30 from Tel Aviv.

The event offers wine aficionados from all over the country a chance to meet the people behind the wines and sample vinos from over 20 local wineries. Among the participating wineries are: Karmei Yosef - Bravdo, Ella Valley Winery, Hans Sternbach,Teperberg, Srigim, Ben Hanna Winery, Castel, Mony, Flam, Katlav, Suson Yam, Yehuda Winery, Agur, Tzora and others.

This year the organizers also decided to break the record for the largest toast ('haramat kosit') in the country which is scheduled for Friday the 30th at 11:00. Other attractions include the "park, drive & taste" tours that are taking place on the Fridays leading up to the main event. Visitors are invited to park their car at the Beit Shemesh train station and hop on a bus which will take them on a tour of the area stopping by and visiting 3 different wineries. (for further information and registration please call *8108)

A couple of years ago, the wine club has also established and marked a Judean Hills route du vin (wine trial), laying the foundations for wine and culinary tourism in the region. The wine trail will allow visitors to easily plan a day tour (or longer), visiting wineries and sampling their offerings.

Next time you are in the Jerusalem area and are looking for an interesting way to spend the day, stop by the closest delicatessen, pick up a couple of hunks of your favorite cheese and a fresh baguette and head on out to the Judean Hills. If you are planning on coming on a Friday or Saturday, I highly recommend visiting Shai Zetzer's dairy farm situated in the Sataf.

Please note that many of the wineries do not have regular visiting hours and making a reservation is advised. Please note that kosher wineries will be closed on Saturday. Additional information is available at - http://touryoav-wine.org.il/