Continuing on with our wine tour, the four of us – Joel, Les, myself and our tour guide Yakov – drove over to the second stop, the Jezreel Valley Winery. Established in 2011, Jezreel Valley Winery is an Israeli start-up boutique winery, located in Kibbutz Hanaton. We entered the winery, met Ma’ayan our guide and started with a small tour of the wine-making process.
Just outside the visitor centre room is the labeling and packaging station and then beyond it outside is the initial grape receiving area. We were told that on the previous day one of the grape harvests came in and the winery was abuzz in production, separating and preparing the grapes for fermentation. Growing exponentially with each year, and with the help of some new machinery, the boutique winery is on its way into becoming a real powerhouse in the boutique wine industry.
Our next stop was the barrel room where French oak barrels filled with aging wine, stacked five-high, lined the sides. Recycling some used barrels from larger wineries for their reds – beneficial in keeping oak tastes down – we spotted some familiar names in the Jezreel Valley barrel room. Returning to the visitor centre room, we sat down to try some wines – first up, the Chardonnay. When the bottles came out, one thing that really impressed me was the design of the labels – a nice blend of rustic and modern, and a cute usage of the Hebrew punctuation on the English letters.
Following up with the Rosé, my favourite from Jezreel Valley, this was a wonderfully chilled, beautifully coloured wine with strong fruit aromas and tastes. Our third and final taster, the Redblend, a blend of Carignan, Argaman and Syrah grapes. It was with this wine that I noticed something interesting. I didn’t detect this in the initial sniffing, but when just a few drops remained, a wood smell began to develop. It got stronger and stronger, which I had assumed was due to my constant swirling – “opening the wine”. When I asked Yehuda, the co-founder, he suggested it was the wine warming up, releasing the wood aroma. Whatever the answer is, this prompted me to “up my game” in reading the wines via their bouquet.
Thanking Ma’ayan and Yehuda, we head out for our next stop: Tulip Winery