Nevo Hazan created this winery by himself but is thankful for “intervention from above” in his words that has helped create Nevo Winery, A tiny yet beautiful 7K bottles a year winery in the Village of Mata, Judean Hills.

The story of how this winery was started is certainly out of the ordinary. We meet passionate and hardworking wine makers all the time but in this case the story is a bit different. It all began 15 years ago. Nevo who was finishing the building of his house was moving out of the wooden cabin that was next door, had found out that his aunt has fallen ill. The aunt who was living in the north, had been scheduled to start treatments at the Haddassa Ein Karem Hospital, and he invited her to live in his now vacant cabin a short distance away from the hospital. At the time, the land the house was on was re-measured and the Hazan family found out that an old bomb shelter that was no longer in use was now a part of their property as well. This shelter would later become a wine cellar.

According to Nevo, his aunt is no ordinary lady either. In the process of Chemotherapy and Radiation treatments this lady had the energy to climb the trees near the house and pick olives to make olive oil from, fruit to make Jams etc. When Harvest time came around, Nevo’s aunt had asked him to get some wine grapes so they can make wine together. The wines were terrific. Nevo’s aunt got better and after about a year she headed back home. Nevo told her before she left that he would continue making wine from that point onwards. He then started building a tasting room outside the family’s house. According to Nevo, no architect or engineers were involved and the tasting room has been built by him alone. This in my honest opinion is one of the most beautiful winery tasting rooms I have ever been to. Outside the tasting room, Nevo also built a brick oven to bake bread and roast lamb for a long period of time, yet another trick he learned from his favorite aunt.

Nevo attended the 2 year program at the Soreq wine making school in the Judean Hills and is now producing wines from grapes in Mata, some of which are from his own vineyards. Last year as a pilot Nevo produced a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Rose which has been a great success and will be produced on a larger scale this year. In addition, Nevo winery produces a crisp, non oaked Viognier as well as red varieties of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon which have been aged 18 months in French Oak. One final blend is of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The wines are lovely and so are Nevo and Ifat who will welcome you at the winery.

The story in which Yossi recalls his first wine making experience under the tutelage of an elderly Persian woman [a mother of a friend] is a funny one. Persian Jews used to produce wine at home in Iran before the fall of the Shah and when Yossi had been asked to supply 400 KG of wine grapes to the woman back in Israel, he said that he would do so but would be interested in making the wine together with her.

On the specified day, anxious to begin the process, Yossi washed the grapes before the lady arrived. As soon as his teacher walked in the room, he understood that he made a mistake. The lady was “blessing” him with an entire arsenal of cuss words that would make anyone who understood Farsi, blush.

The following day, Yossi brought new grapes, this time he did not wash them, and made his first batch of wine alongside his teacher. Fifteen years have passed since Yossi made his first wine and realized that this was his calling. He then planted his own vineyards in the hills of Nes Harim, overlooking Jerusalem.

Katlav Winery is currently producing between 20 – 25K bottles a year and Yosi Itach is both the Vintner and the Wine Maker of this winery. Yosi is using an old world systme to cool his barrels of wine. There are 5 manmade caves at Katlav, all of which are insulated from outside temperatures. Keeping the barrels cool and conserving energy throughout the aging process of the wine.

On the day we visted Katlav winery as a part of our Judean Hills Wine Tour , Yosi treated us to a barrel tasting of his 2012 Cabernet Sauvinion well as the two special blends that are already available in the open market. The first is Nes Harim 2010 which is a blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot in equal parts. This is a unique blend for this winery and a great overall t. The 2nd blend we tried was Wadi Katlav 2010 which has a Cabrnet Sauvinion base [50%] as well as Merlot [25%] Petit Verdot [15%] and Cabernet Franc [10%], a wonderful wine that I simply had to take home.