Recently I took a day off from my exciting army job and went on a little exploring trip with one of my sisters. We got in the car with some snacks and the camera and off we went, to see a variety of interesting sites in the Upper Galilee area. However, our first stop – Galil Mountain Winery – was not in the itinerary but being spontaneous is also fun so we parked the car and went on inside to see some larger-scale wine production (unlike the boutique production of the Saslove Winery).
We entered the modern-looking winery building, located between Kibbutz Yir’on and the Lebanese town of Yaroun (how weird is that?) less than a kilometre from the Israel-Lebanon border. Just looking at the area on Google Maps, the difference between the Israeli land and the Lebanese land is ridiculous. Technically, Lebanon should be able to become a world contender in fine wines. In the aerial shot below, the little town in the middle is Kibbutz Yir’on with the winery just to the left among the vineyards and the scattered town on the left is the Lebanese Yaroun – the border being quite distinguishable:
Friendly faces greeted us and before long we handed over some coins and began our tour. Starting with the balcony overlooking rows and rows of grapevines, we then moved over to the front of the building where the freshly picked grapes are fed into the hopper which takes grapes and all into the winery for production, filtering out leaves and vines. Our guide then took us into the production plant where numerous stainless steel drums, vats and pipes turn the mulched grape into a fragrant alcoholic beverage. Since we made wine twice in our basement back in America, we knew the answers to some of the tricky questions she asked about wine production.
And here is another shot of the production room, looking at the windows of the visitors centre and some office protrusion.
With the fumes of fermentation greeting us with every step we walked into the next room, the barrel room. Here, wine ages in wooden barrels sealed with silicon – all made of French oak if I’m not mistaken:
Looping around, we returned to the visitors centre and sat down to watch a short film about the Galil Mountain Winery. Founded in 2000, the winery is jointly owned by Kibbutz Yir’on and the Golan Heights Winery (33% and 67%, respectively). The winery, with vineyards scattered around the Upper Galilee area, produces over one million bottles of wine annually, offering some fourteen blends and varieties. After the video presentation our guide took us into the tasting room where she handed us the wine list and prepared three wines for us to try.
Our first sampling was the Galil Viognier from the local Yiron Vineyard. I had just a small sip, as I’m driving, and we all spoke about the white wine – highfalutin talks about nose and palette. Next, the Galil Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, my least favourite of the three. And then, the flagship bottle – Yiron. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, this wine was of heavy body and rich palette with berries and toasted oak – and according to them, a slight hint of butter.
When we were done tasting (in my case mere sipping and in my sister’s case downing large quantities of wine – mine and her’s) we bid the Galil Mountain Winery lot “adieu!” and hopped back into the car. Along the road a few minutes later, I took this photo of a vineyard in the low mountains and am attributing it to the aforementioned winery with creative licence.
Our next stop was Tel Kedesh…