Twelve Masters of Wine have been visiting Israel. This is arguably the most prestigious group of people ever to visit Israel. There are only 370 MW’s in the world, amongst all the winemakers, sommeliers, wine critics, and wine buyers. They really are the crème de la crème.
The visit was funded and professionally organized by The Israel Export Institute.
The visit began with an evening welcome at the Norman Hotel, arguably the country’s leading wine venue. The first day was devoted to the Judean Hills. The MW’s visited the Shoresh vineyard hosted by Eran Pick, winemaker of Tzora Vineyards and Israel’s only MW. This was followed by a master class of the wines of the Central Mountains by Pick and Ido Lewinsohn (Barkan Winery) at Domaine du Castel, followed by a tutored tasting. In the afternoon there was an opportunity for wineries and MW’s to meet at Flam Winery. Wineries from the Judean Hills & Shomron Hills showed their wares and MW’s had time to taste at their leisure.
The second day the party went north to the Golan Heights. They had a jeep tour of the Golan, including the Bar’on vineyard and the Golan Heights Winery’s vine nursery and propagation block. They then listened to a master class about the Golan given by Victor Schoenfeld (Golan Heights Winery) and Uri Hetz (Chateau Golan) and were given a tasting of a variety of wines from the Golan. A highlight was a Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 1995, which showed very well.
The next day was devoted to the Galilee. The group started by visiting Gaby Sadan’s Kerem Shvo vineyard in the Upper Galilee. They then received a master class on the Galilee given by Lior Lacser (Carmel) and Gil Shatzberg (Recanati) followed by a tutored tasting. This was held at Kishor Winery in the Western Galilee. In the afternoon there was a tasting of wines of the Golan, Galilee and Mt. Carmel regions held at Amphorae Vineyards. During the day they squeezed in a lecture and tasting of olive oil by Yizhar Turgendhaft.
On the final wine day they were welcomed to Barkan Winery, the country’s largest winery. Here they enjoyed lectures on Noam Reshef on his research in grape growing in the Negev Desert and by Dr. Shibi Drori, on his research of Holy Land varieties. Then there was a tasting of wines from the Negev and some of the obscure varieties like Marawi, Jandali and Bittuni.
With the wine aspect of the visit over, the guests then went on to tour Jerusalem and Dead Sea. The MW visit was important and a great success. No less than 50 Israeli wineries had an opportunity to have wines tasted. One of the distinguished guests, Barbara Abraham MW, said: “I have been to many MW trips to countries all over the world, and this was the most interesting and best organized.” Credit and thanks from Israeli wine should go to Daphna Sternfeld, Deputy Director General of the Israel Export Institute and Yaara Shimony, manager of the wine sector, for a job well done. Let’s hope there will be more MW visits in the future.