First and foremost let me apologise for being negligent in my blogging – nearly two full months have gone by empty of interesting content. I hope to remedy this with a post about a lovely little boutique winery that I had the pleasure of touring, thanks to friend Dovid Bloom who works with the bottling crew. Here is Mr. Bloom, presently a freshly bottled sample of Aviv 2011 Shiraz:
The winery featured today is the Saslove Winery, founded by Barry Saslove (formerly of Canada). The production and bottling is done in Zuriel, just minutes away from Ma’alot – within eyesight even. However, the vineyards are mostly on the other side of Mount Meron, in the Eastern Galilee, where the air is dryer and the climate is more suited for fruits of the vine, all at an average of 800 metres above sea level. Here is a photo of one of the vineyards, at Kerem Ben Zimra:
Getting back to the Western Galilee, we drove along the windy highway and arrived at the winery, greeted by Dovid Bloom. He began by taking us inside and showing us the bottling, explaining the steps as the bottles trudged past on the conveyor belt. First, of course, someone has to load the empty bottles into the machine:
The bottles are then rinsed and nitrogen is shot into them, then the wine is piped in. In an adjacent building the wine is stored in huge metal vats (it should be noted that the top-of-the-line Saslove wines are aged in wood barrels), here is an unglamourous glimpse:
After the bottles are filled, a cork is pneumatically forced into the open neck of the vessel. Dovid opened the doors so that photographic efforts would yield a more favourable result. Yes, there is no flash reflections disturbing the shot but I’d still say it is a mess of glass, metal and wine. The bottles in the background are those attached to the wine-spouting nozzle, the bottle headed to the right in the foreground is about to be corked:
After the corking comes the labeling and boxing. The labels are particularly beautiful at this winery although it seems as though every winery and brewery I visit has a great sense of style (Malka Beer and Adir Winery come to mind). Just look at this label!
And after the bottles are boxed and those boxes are sealed, a pallet of full boxes is brought back into the warehouse containing the wine vats and joins the others, ready for shipping. At 2,000 bottles an hour, if I remember correctly, this was just the start (we visited in the morning):
Just after photographing the pallets as seen above, the proprietor and winemaker, Barry Saslove, began talking to us. He went into great depths explaining how the climate and geographical location of the Eastern Galilee made it, in his opinion, one of the best places in the world to grow grapes. Being an expert in the field, knowing that the fertile low mountains would yield great crops, Barry staked his claim and now runs a distinguished boutique winery. A French wine authority named the Saslove Winery one of the top 100 wineries in the Mediterranean, of just three in Israel.
Eventually, as all impromptu tours go, we broke apart, thanked the correct personages and made it to the car. Due to the fact that we visited the factory, and not the visitor centre which is in another village. we didn’t do any tasting or buying. Maybe one day… But as we leave, one last parting shot:
Visitor Centre info: http://saslove.com/en/visitors_center.php