I have known Doron Rav Hon for a long time, and he is one of the most respected Winemakers in Israel. After studying in Burgundy, Doron was chosen to be the Head Winemaker at Ella Valley Vineyards and he stayed there from 2002 until 2011. Two years ago, He was finally able to follow his dream of opening his own winery, the name which was chosen for it is Sphera Winery White Concepts and the idea was to open a small but highly proficient winery which will revolve around white wines only.

Wine Tasting at Sphera Winery – Judean Hills Wine Tour

After getting to know quite a few winemakers in Israel and spending time with a lot of them, I can tell you that what matters most to them is not necessarily to “go on their own” but actually going back to basics. In large kosher wineries the winemaker is more of a consultant who cannot really touch or handle the wine he or she is making. In a smaller operation such as Sphera, a Winemaker such as Doron has the opportunity to once again, be the wine maker that he is and to handle the wine making task himself.

So why write about Sphera now? That is because of a recent surprise visit we paid to Doron as a part of our Judean Hills wine tour. We were fortunate enough to end up at his winery and taste some of the amazing white wine he has been working on. Sphera is located in kibbutz Gat which is just a few Kilometers south of the Judean Hills. The winery shares the same roof with Laterrapromessa winery, which is known for the great restaurant it houses (yet another wonderful reason to visit). The winery was especially designed for white wine production with special high capacity cooling tanks, Heavy duty large press machine and special barrels for white wine

During the visit, we tasted the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and First Page (a blend of Semillon, Pinot Gris and Riesling) all from the White Concepts series and all from 2012 vintage. The overall perception at the end of the tasting was that Doron produces excellent, balanced and harmonious wines that are tasty and refreshing especially in the hot summer days of Israel.

The city of Haifa is well known for its beaches as well as the beautiful Baha’i Gardens. When our guests David and Trisha, requested a wine tour to the Carmel region that would include the city of Haifa, we immediately asked if they wish to visit the first and probably only urban winery in Israel. The couple, who were in Israel for a friend’s wedding happily agreed.
Hai Vortman and his winery have been on our radar for a long time. The wine has been getting rave reviews [even from the late beloved Daniel Rogov] and we certainly knew the view from the winery would be incredible. Vortman, a native of the city of Haifa, has planted his own vineyard in the Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean has been producing critically acclaimed wine for the last 5 years. Vortman winery currently produces about five thousand bottles a year, and is looking to expand in the near future while maintaining the unique qualities of their wine.
As this was a private tour, Hai was kind enough to get us a barrel tasting of his 2011 Shambour blend that was absolutely terrific and showed great promise.


We later sat down at a beautiful grape vine – woven gazebo and tasted the wines that have already been bottled and released into the market. The wines were: 2009 Netiv Ofakim, 2010 Shambour,   and my personal favorite on this warm Saturday morning, The 2011 Shfea Valley blend [Dry White] that has 67% Sauvignon Blanc and 33% Sémillon.

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Vortman Winery for winning The Sommelier Gold Medal just last week for their 2010 Shambour.

November
25

Amphora Winery
It started as a regular day tour to the Southern Carmel region. A friend and I drove to the Old Bat-Shlomo village where a short walk took us to different shops and art galleries. The first house on the left hosts a very interesting art gallery combined with a small coffee shop. We stopped again at the third house where we taste different homemade cheeses and different kind of olives. Another ten minuet stroll in the village and we are back in the car on the way to the Druze village Dalyat el Carmel.  Claiming the mountain on the curved road we stopped again at one of the many family owned food stand on the side of the road for an original Druze pita with Labane (soft goat cheese) and herb tea.  Dalyat-El Carmel is always colorful and interesting. The Druze people are great hosts, especially on Saturdays, when many Israelis and tourists chose to make their shopping and dining at the village.  After walking for some time around the bountiful shops we had back to the car and drive out of Dalyat- El Carmel  towered Haifa.
At this time I know where I want to go! I have not been to Amphora winery yet  but heard great things about it . I turned left to rout 721 (“BEIT OREN”) which is considered one of the most beautiful routes in Israel. This is a curvy down hill road from Carmel Mountain toward the coastline. When reached the bottom (rt. 4) we made left towered CAREM-MAHARAL where Amphora winery is located.  The winery is located at this current location since 2005. The building was designed by Diego Grasso, Italian architect who has also designed several wineries in northern Italy. Grasso used the local stone and created a unique building with a European look.  Entering through the double wooden door we found ourselves in a big tasting room with a long bar.  A lovely woman with a Russian accent (the only bartender at the winery at that time) greeted us and offered a wine tasting for 30 Shekels. As an Israeli I replied and asked “How many wines we get to taste for this price?” When we heard that we taste 5 different wines we could not resist the offer.
We started with a chilled Viognier that left such a good impression on me that I bought some to take home! Fruity and Silky like a Viognier should be! Next we tested the Organic Rosé and the regular Rosé which was better than the organic.  A bottle of the Rosé was also accompanied me  home . Amphora has 3 lines of red wine: the basic Med-Red, Rhyton and Amphora which is the premium line of wines. We tasted the basic line which contains the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah all were ready to drink but after tasting 70 other wines that particular week I decided to wait and report after tasting the higher quality wines Amphora has to offer (I hope this opportunity will present itself soon!)

It started as a regular day tour to the Southern Carmel region. A friend and I drove to the Old Bat-Shlomo village where a short walk took us to different shops and art galleries. The first house on the left hosts a very interesting art gallery combined with a small coffee shop. We stopped again at the third house where we taste different homemade cheeses and different kind of olives. Another ten minuet stroll in the village and we are back in the car on the way to the Druze village Dalyat el Carmel.  Claiming the mountain on the curved road we stopped again at one of the many family owned food stand on the side of the road for an original Druze pita with Labane (soft goat cheese) and herb tea.  Dalyat-El Carmel is always colorful and interesting. The Druze people are great hosts, especially on Saturdays, when many Israelis and tourists chose to make their shopping and dining at the village.  After walking for some time around the bountiful shops we had back to the car and drive out of Dalyat- El Carmel  towered Haifa.

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Carmel Winery Visit

posted by Alon Yithaki on Tags: , , , ,

November
24

Carmel Winery Visit
I was invited to visit the new Carmel “wine & Culture” center in Zichron Ya’acov. Carmel is Israel’s biggest winery. The tour starts at the old winemaker house which was transformed to a Mediterranean bistro. The tour is held up to 3 times a day (reservation required) and covers the history of Carmel which dates back to 1882. The magnificent main building was constructed in 1892 and the information reviled on the tour is very interesting (do you know who are the 3 Israeli prime ministers who worked at Carmel winery???)  The tour pass through the old celeries and ends up in an elegant tasting room where the guests sit around a big table and enjoying a guided wine tasting. We ended the tour in the winery wine shop.
I was invited to visit the new Carmel “wine & Culture” center in Zichron Ya’acov. Carmel is Israel’s biggest winery. The tour starts at the old winemaker house which was transformed to a Mediterranean bistro. The tour is held up to 3 times a day (reservation required) and covers the history of Carmel which dates back to 1882. The magnificent main building was constructed in 1892 and the information reviled on the tour is very interesting (do you know who are the 3 Israeli prime ministers who worked at Carmel winery in their early days ?)  The tour takes you through the old cellars and ends up in an elegant tasting room where the guests sit around a big table and enjoying a guided wine tasting.  The tour concludes in the shop where one has  the opportunity to take the wines he or she finds impressive.

The Old Winemaker House

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