By Deena Levenstein
The drive to central Binyamin from Jerusalem is breathtaking with its open roads, hilly landscapes and scattered towns, villages and settlements along the way.
After only getting a little lost we arrived at the beautiful Gvaot Boutique Winery, on a hilltop alongside a small Jewish settlement, Givat Harel.
We met the winemaker and co-owner, Dr. Shivi Drori. Sitting in their cottage-like building, we began to talk about the winery, Shivi’s research and the (very) long history of wine-making in the area.
Gvaot Winery – then and today
In the year 2000 Shivi and his partner begin growing high quality grapes and selling them. In 2005 they figured, why sell them if they could use them for their own wine? And thus Gvaot Winery was created.
They started with 5,000 bottles a year and today produce around 40,000 bottles annually that are sold in Israel, Europe and North America.
Actually, one of the unique things about the winery, and one of the things that makes it a beautiful place to visit, is that the winery sits alongside the vineyards. One feels the expansive nature clearly sees the complete wine-making process.
Click on the photos for a slideshow.
Shivi explained that irrigation is the most important factor while growing premium grapes. And once these grapes make it to the winery, the focus is on maintaining the natural potential in the grapes. “Don’t cause harm” is their ongoing motto throughout the decision making process.
Of course since it was 10 o’clock in the morning, it was time to taste a few of the wines. My favorites were the Dances in White, a dry white blend of Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer, and a red Cabernet Sauvignon.
Shivi’s treasure hunt research
Shivi comes across as sincere and down-to-earth. He told us how twelve years ago a teacher at the Faculty of Agriculture of the Hebrew University helped him grow an appreciation for high quality wines. Shivi’s father is also a winemaker but of the sweet “kiddush wine” type (often used for blessing the Shabbat).
He continues to conduct research through Ariel University. His main area of interest is in combing the land old grape varieties not currently grown or used that were very possibly used for wine a few thousand years ago.
Around 120 varieties have been found so far, 20 of which are good for wine production. In fact, Barkan Winery has already planted a vineyard with one of these varieties.
Read more about his research.
Wine and local agriculture in the Bible
Shivi told us biblical stories of wine and vineyards and wars… Because 3,500 years ago there were many wineries in the area, one can find many antique wine presses scattered around. Here is one that we got to see:
A taste of the spectacular views
There is stunning nature and amazing views in every direction. (Click an image for a slideshow view.)
More info about the Gvaot Winery
Gvaot Winery has won local and international awards for their wines. They also produce around 1,000 bottles of olive oil a year “just for fun.”
All their products are kosher lemehadrin, including for Passover.
More about the area
There is a lot to do in the Binyamin region. In another post I’ll also be writing about the amazing archaeological findings at Ancient Shiloh, the cool American couple who make wood instruments, 100% natural wine and more and a woman who has a little bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere that includes glass workshops for couples.
Subscribe to our newsletter
you may also like
Israel the Enigma
Israel is an inspiring enigma which you’ll begin to understand, and definitely begin to fall in love with, once you start experiencing it for yourself.November 7, 2015
Outside The Box – Touring Israel featured in OutThere Magazine
We invite you to read this fantastic article (below) written by journalist Uwern Jong and featured in the current issue of…January 10, 2018
What to Expect in Israel on Purim
In Israel, every reason is a reason to party and Purim is the ultimate reason, bringing thousands to the streets in hilarious costumes for huge street carnivals and parties galore.March 4, 2015
The Best Touring Israel Moments of June 2015 – in Photos
Touring Israel’s clients truly lucked out this June with the most balmy weather throughout Israel, creating the perfect setup for their luxury…July 3, 2015
Dreidel times, for the top that never stops
Ever wondered how the dreidel came to be a Chanukah pastime? Turns out — pun intended — that the spinning top…December 4, 2017
City of David – Of Kingdoms and Water – Part II
Entire kingdoms and stories are built around water sources. Where there’s water, there is potential for civilization. And so we headed down to see the Gihon Spring, the major water source in ancient Jerusalem, and hear how it was used and manipulated in order to win wars.January 6, 2015
6 reasons to come to Israel for Sukkot 2016
Israel offers amazing, fun and fascinating events throughout the week of Sukkot. It’s so hard to choose but here are six of the best.September 30, 2015
6 of Israel’s Coolest Travel Innovations
The travel industry is becoming progressively more hi tech. Here are a few of Israel’s coolest travel innovations that open up new options, giving you smooth sailing while abroad.April 30, 2015
City of David – Of Kingdoms and Water – Part I
It was a cold and sunny winter’s day in December and it was a morning of storytelling – of King David’s conquest of what was then a Jebusite city, about how the Jebusites lived (how the women carried the water in jugs from the Gihon Spring), about the downfall of the Kingdom of Judah (fighting the Babylonians was a lost cause and Prophet Jeremiah said so), about King Hezekiah’s one last attempt, 2,700 years ago, to save his falling kingdom (it’s a miracle that they succeeded in creating a system to redirect the water into the walled city of the time) and more.January 5, 2015