This post represents an important first for my Planet Wine series! It’s my first landing in Israel, which many people do not associate with wine–but a lovely country that, like many of its neighbors in the Mediterranean, has been a center of wine production for literally thousands of years. The view of this quiet street in Binyamina, Israel is just outside the tasting room and visitor’s center of Binyamina WInery, the 5th largest winery (in terms of production volume) in Israel. Binyamina is the nerve center of production for five vineyards in various places in Israel, including the Golan Heights area and the Amatzia vineyard in the Lachish region. The latter vineyard is adjacent to a series of hills and caves, where Jews hid during the Bar Kochba revolt against the Roman Empire in the 2nd century CE.
Binyamina Winery was founded in 1952 by Joseph Zeltzer, a Hungarian Jew. The winery was originally named after Zeltzer’s son who died fighting for Israeli independence in 1948 and was established on the site of a former perfume factory. Today winemakers Yiftach Peretz, trained in Italy, and Yael Sandler, trained in Australia, supervise the production of numerous Binyamina wines including Cabernets, Merlots, Zinfandels and Chardonnays under the Binyamina Reserve label, a Cab and a Malbec called Yogev, and the flagship Chosen label, which includes several red blends.
I admit I’ve never had wine from Israel before, but I’ve read several items in the last year about how good it is and how Israeli winemakers are rapidly ascending in the world’s wine market. As I would love to go to Israel someday (I am, after all, a Jew), I would definitely love to drop in to Binyamina and sample some of it for myself, perhaps while eating some ancient dish in the shadow of a building from Roman times. Such things are possible in Israel.