Alon and I have been touring the Judean Hills with guests from all over the world for 10 years now.

Truth be told, I have only been to the Mony Winery a handful of times in those years.  When we were hired by a returning guest who has toured Kosher wineries with us multiple times in the Judean Hills, in  the Carmel, Upper Galilee and Golan, The challenge was on to find them Kosher wineries that they have not been to in the area of Bet Shemesh.

Mony is bigger in production than our usual suspects.  The winery is up to 400K bottles a year now and their portfolio is vast.  Most wines are produced in both a Mevushal series and a non Mevushal. The winery has been Kosher since 2005.

Mony Winery was founded and is owned by the Artul Family, Shakib Artul from the village of Mghar in Northern Israel, named the winery after his son who passed away from a heart condition.  A lot of our guests are surprised to hear that this Kosher Winery is owned by a Christian Arab family.

120 year old tunnels – dug by the clergy today used for aging wine

Sasson Ben Aharon [center] and guests

Sasson Ben Aharon, Head Winemaker of Binyamina Winery for over 10 years assumed the role of Winemaker at Mony in 2014.  Sasson in the past has also spent 6 years at the Israeli Wine Institute.

As we toured the facilities with Sasson, he explained that Mony acts as a host winery and that some private labels are being produced there in addition to Mony. He did not name any names. The two labels that we know are produced at Mony include Five Stones and Montefiore.

While I knew the wine is successfully distributed in the U.S by Happy Hearts Wine and is in good demand at Kosher wineries throughout the US, I was surprised to learn the US distributor of the wine is eagerly awaiting the release of the Mevushal version of “Via” which is the higher wine for this winery.  There are some high end Kosher Steak Houses in the East Coast awaiting this wine.

Along with Sasson, we tasted a crisp French Colombard, some dry Gewurztraminer and in the reds the wines that stood out were a 2013 Cab Reserve and a 2015 Reserve Mallbec. The reds especially showed good value for money.

This small boutique is owned and operated by the Rosenberg family. Yossi Rosenberg studied wine making at Sorek Wine Making School in 2003 and later advanced his studies at the Tel Hai wine making program. The family moved to the village of Beqoa in 2011 with the purpose of planting a vineyard and starting a winery. In 2012 and with the help of their friends, the family planted a vineyard which consisted of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay.

The winery has a lovely visitor center which has an open house on Fridays. When we visited the winery, people were enjoying freshly baked sourdough breads and cheeses, all made on the farm. After sampling them, we must admit that they were absolutely delicious.

Visitor Center at Kerem Barak

Other than wine tasting and pre-arranged meals, the farm offers cheese making classes and baking workshops. As far as the wine is concerned, we tasted several good reds. The 2012 Adom consisted of Cab, Syrah and Petite Sirah aged in oak for 18 months which was very flavorful and enjoyable. The point of uniqueness came from the whites; this is the only winery in Israel to produce an Orange wine! This is 100% French Colombard which fermented with the skins.

 

The vineyard was named after Barak Shmuel Rosenbeg, the son of Yossi and Yael who passed away from an illness back in 2010. Barak was an artist who enjoyed drawing cartoons and the logo of the winery was his creation. The Rosenberg’s are commemorating him on their bottles of wine as well.