This post is the second in a series of posts about wineries around Israel. The first post was Top Ten Jerusalem Area Winery Visits.
When deciding which wineries to include, I consider the overall experience, the setting of the winery, the knowledge and friendliness of staff/hosts and the food served. Here are some of my recommendations of wineries to visit in the North of Israel.
- Tishbi Winery (Kosher), Binyamina
Probably one of the most popular kosher wineries to visit, Tishbi has a large visitor’s center at the main winery site, on the road from Binyamina to Zichron Yaakov. The winery includes a spacious dairy restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating, a sourdough bakery, a wine and Valrhona chocolate tasting room and on Fridays, there is a smoked meat truck at the back of the winery. The winery is only open for breakfast and lunch but there is also a Tishbi restaurant in the Zichron Yaakov town center, which is open all day until 11pm. Tishbi wine, jams, olive oil and bread are all on sale in the shop inside the Zichron restaurant.
- Tulip Winery (Kosher), Kiryat Tivon
Possibly my favorite winery in the country, Tulip not only produces great wine, but it is also located in Kfar Tikva, a home for adults with developmental and emotional disabilities. The winery employs members of the Kfar Tikva community who always give a wonderfully warm welcome whenever I have visited. The basic Tulip series is a perfect everyday wine for dinner with friends and the Reserve Series and Espero are great more full-bodied wines. Their premium wine, Black Tulip, is a red blend and is only available at the winery or abroad. Tulip organizes a series of great events for their wine club members and the winery is a beautiful and tranquil place to visit.
- Jezreel Valley Winery (Kosher), Kibbutz Hannaton
The winery itself is very small and there is not so much to see but the setting of Jezreel Valley is lovely. The wine tasting costs NIS 50 for six wines and a cheese platter. The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly, and very generous with the portions. I would happily visit again.
- Netofa Winery (Kosher), Mitzpe Netofa
The entrance to this tiny winery is hidden underneath the central synagogue of the town, but once you are inside, it is a real hidden gem. The Netofa wine room is beautifully designed especially for wine tastings and intimate meals or workshops. The winemaker, Pierre Miodownik, is a font of information. He is French but spent a number of years in Portugal producing kosher Port. He produces two Port-style dessert wine and it is clear that the winery is his passion. All the grapes are from the area and the winery will deliver cases of wine all over the country.
- Dalton Winery (Kosher), Merom Hagalil
One of the largest wineries in the area, the Dalton Winery has a spacious indoor tasting area, as well as a beautiful outdoor area. Tours of the winery explain the entire winemaking process. Wines range from the popular Kanaan series to the higher end Single Vineyard wines, with plenty of choice in between.
- Adir Winery (Kosher), Merom Hagalil
The beautifully designed visitor’s center includes a bar for wine and cheese tastings, as well as a dairy café serving the Adir Dairy goat’s cheese and goat frozen yogurt (full menu). Adir produces three series of wine, as well as a Port-style dessert wine. The winery is located in the same business park as Dalton, so it is easy to visit both at the same time.
Other Wineries in the Area
- Tavor Winery (Kosher) – the winery focuses on low cost, young wines which seem to be popular in bars all over the country. Whenever Tavor Har is the wine on offer at a bar, I choose not to drink wine! The tasting room is nice but there are very few wines worth tasting. The Marzipan museum of Shaked Tavor is in the same complex in Kfar Tavor so it is a good option if you are with your family.
- Lueria (Kosher) – a very small winery, located in Moshav Safsufa, close to the Dalton Industrial Park. The tasting room is located in the home of the owner and is only open at certain times. We were fortunate to see some of the actual winemaking process in the small winery. The Lueria Grand Vital and Rosso blends are both rich bodied premium wines.
- Ramat Naftaly (Kosher) – I visited this winery as I was staying on the Moshav. We were made to feel like they were doing us a favor by serving us and we were not overly impressed by the wines.
The winery is located in an industrial warehouse and is not remotely fancy, but the staff is very friendly and there is no charge for the wine tasting. The winery serves the Pelter and Matar wines, as well as the Pelter Distillery spirits, which include arak, gin, brandy and eau de vie.
There is the option to order a cheese platter for NIS 50. Pelter is located next to the De Karina Chocolate Factory, which is a perfect place for a coffee and cake after a wine-tasting, or a great place to entertain kids, while the adults taste the wine.
- Assaf Winery (Not Supervised), Kidmat Tzvi
The family-run winery includes a dedicated tasting room, AdiKa café and a boutique B & B. The café serves a selection of freshly baked bread and pastries, as well as tapas, meat, fish and local goat cheese. The wines produced at Assaf include some more unusual grape varieties like Pinotage, Pink Zinfandel and Pinot Gris.
- Golan Heights Winery, Katzrin
It is no surprise that one of the most established wineries also has one of the largest visitor’s centers in Israel. The Golan Heights Winery is located in the Katzrin Industrial park, where you can also find the Golan Heights Distillery, producer of craft whisky, gin and arak. A tour of the winery takes an hour and includes an explanation about winemaking, a visit to the barrel room and ends in the large tasting rooms, where visitors are able to sample wines from the four series – Golan, Hermon, Gamla and Yarden. The winery also offers more elaborate tours with the addition of food, a tour of a vineyard or an agricultural tour.
This winery is in the upper Golan, on the way to Har Hermon (Mount Hermon). The setting is beautiful and the visitor’s center is spacious. Although I am a big fan of the wines from Odem Mountain, I was not impressed by the experience I received. Not only was I charged for my wine tasting, even though we went on to buy more than a case of wine, they also charged me extra for additional tastings that they offered to encourage us to buy more. Furthermore,there was a mistake in the bill which we only noticed when we unpacked the wine at home and although I called and emailed several times I never received a refund. I included it on this list as I am hoping this is not the typical experience, but if you are in the area and want to try some great wine, make sure you check your bill carefully!
Other Wineries in the Area
- Bazelet HaGolan (Kosher) – we came later than planned and another group had already started a tasting and they couldn’t cope with having two groups at the same time. We watched a very nice movie and plan to return another time to sample the wines.