Confusingly there are wines labeled Jerusalem Winery, Jerusalem Wineries and Jerusalem Vineyard Winery in the market. All have launched wines this holiday. Furthermore, at the Sommelier Exhibition in February, two wineries named Jerusalem were situated twenty meters from each other.
To help the confused customer, this is the story behind the three names.
JERUSALEM WINERIES / JERUSALEM VINEYARD WINERY
Shimshon Winery, was founded by Yona Mendelson and the Shor family in Jerusalem in 1951. Mendelson’s wife, Tsippora Shor, was the 5th generation of the Shor family, which has winemaking roots in the Old City of Jerusalem dating from 1848.
In 1976 Shimshon Winery moved to Atarot, in the northern outskirts of Jerusalem. In 2006 the winery was purchased by businessman and entrepreneur Ofer Guetta, and was renamed Jerusalem Wineries. By now it was the last remaining winery in Jerusalem.
The CEO is Erez Winner (Col. Erez Winner was assistant to the Chief of Staff in the Israel Defence Forces). The marketing and export manager is Carmit Ehrenreich (ex-Golan Heights Winery and Galil Mountain). The winemaker is Canadian Sam Soroka, one of the most respected winemakers in Israel, who has made wine in five different countries.
Today the winery is known as Jerusalem Wineries in Hebrew and in Israel, and Jerusalem Vineyard Winery in English and export markets. Its innovative visitors center and tasting room is at the Mishkenot Sha’ananim Windmill in Yemin Moshe, in the heart of Jerusalem. Its main labels or brands are Vintage, Premium, Gerstein, Reserve and Jubilee. The boutique wines of the winery are called Windmill and the flagship of the winery is their Special Reserve. The winery produces 3 million bottles a year, half of which is grape juice. However, a million and a half bottles of wine places it comfortably in the top ten largest wine producers in Israel.
JERUSALEM WINERY / JERUSALEM HILLS
What is known as Jerusalem Winery was first launched in 2002, mainly for the export market. The winery is owned by French investors and on the bottle is written Moshav Geulim, near Netanya. However, there is no winery on the moshav. There is also no website giving information. They do write about 400 barrels for aging wines at the winery and vineyards at 400-800 meters elevation, but nowhere is it written where the wine is made and who the winemaker is. The main label is Jerusalem Hills.
It is thought the winery may be a brand of the Hebron Heights Winery (Ramat Hevron), who also have a another brand called Noah Winery. Hebron Heights is a large winery situated in Kiryat Arba, near Hebron. It is owned by a group of French investors and was founded in 2001. An example of some of their labels are Judean Heights, Isaac’s Ram and Makhpelah. Again, there is a lack of information out there, but the owner manager of the winery since its founding is Michel Marciano. The winery is said to produce 500,000 bottles a year. Frenchman Francois Raynal is the consultant winemaker who travels to Israel when required.
So, to summarize:
Jerusalem Wineries is an old winery with a long history in Jerusalem, though it was only given the name Jerusalem in 2006. Their label and logo in English and for export refers to Jerusalem Vineyard Winery.
The other Jerusalem Winery is really a brand not a real winery, probably with their wines produced in Kyriat Arba, near Hebron, and it has been sold in export markets since 2002. The dominant brand on the the label is Jerusalem Hills.
Examples of wines showing the three different names, which are available for Rosh Hashanah are as follows:
Jerusalem Winery, Jerusalem Hills Gewurztraminer 2018
Jerusalem Wineries, Gerstein Marselan 2016
Jerusalem Vineyard Winery, Windmill Yemin Moshe 2016
These are the facts as known. No doubt the reader is as confused as before!