October 25, 2018
Jerusalem Winery opens visitors center & tasting room more »

The Montefiore Windmill in Jerusalem is one of the landmarks of Jerusalem. It was built in 1857 by Sir Moses Montefiore. It was renovated in 2012 and reopened in the presence of the prime minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu and members of the Montefiore and Sebag Montefiore families from Israel and England.

Now it is undergoing a new reincarnation. It has been reopened as the visitors center and tasting room of Jerusalem Vineyard Winery. It is a cooperation between The Jerusalem Foundation, the Jerusalem Winery and Zu Zu Tourism. It was opened by the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat in the presence of Ofer Guetta, owner of Jerusalem Winery, Erez Winner, CEO of Jerusalem Winery and Anat Tzur, Director General of the Jerusalem Foundation. David Montefiore, 6th generation after Moses Montefiore, himself in the wine trade (as wine department manager for IBBLS, owners of Tabor Winery), represented the Montefiore family.

The visitor center & tasting room is managed by Jamie Sellouk, one of the leading sommeliers in the country and runner up in the prestigious Pras Yarden (Yarden Award for Wine Service.) It offers tutored tastings, wine workshops, special offers and the opportunity to taste and buy.

Jerusalem Vineyard Winery is the 7th largest winery in Israel, but it has roots with the Shor family, who opened their winery in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1848. After the founding of the state, and as the Shor family grew larger, the family winery split up into four different wineries: Arza, Hacormim, Shimshon and Zion.

Shimshon Winery was founded by the Shor family and Yona Mendelson, who had married into the family by marrying Tzippora Shor. In 1976 Shimshon Winery moved to Atarot in the northern outskirts of Jerusalem. It is the only winery left in Jerusalem.  In 2006 it was bought by entrepreneur and businessman, Ofer Guetta. At the time the winery was mainly known for producing Kiddush wine, grape juice, and inexpensive table wines.

However in recent years the winery made large investments in quality in vineyards, winery and marketing. Erez Winner, retired Colonel in the Israel Defence Forces, was appointed CEO. Canadian born Sam Soroka was appointed winemaker. He is considered one of the leading winemakers in the country. The winery started winning awards and gaining high scores internationally.

In honor of the move to the Montefiore Windmill, Sam Soroka came out with a limited edition, prestigious range of wines under the label Montefiore Windmill. There is a Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a flagship blend called Montefiore Windmill Yemin Moshe.

When Moses Montefiore purchased the first land outside the Old City Walls in 1855, it was covered with stones, olive trees and wild vines. He called this land Kerem Moshe, (Moses' Vineyard.) In 1860 it was renamed Mishkenot Shaananim, and 1892 the second part of Kerem Moshe was renamed Yemin Moshe. More recently the Mishkenot Shaananim Restaurant became known as having the finest wine list in the Middle East, but that restaurant, owned by Moise Peer, closed during the intifada. Now wine has returned to Mishkenot Shaananim. It is possible to sit outside the Montefiore Windmill, sip a glass of Jerusalem Winery's Montefiore Windmill wine, whilst overlooking the Old City Walls of Jerusalem.

PHOTOS Eli Berko Moriah

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