Saturday, September 21, 2013

Carmel Winery

About 20 miles south of Haifa (where my grandparents live), you can find a quaint little town called Zikhron Ya'aqov (also spelled Zikhron Ya'akov).

We went there on Friday to tour The Carmel Winery where they make some of Israel's best wines (note the conditional qualifier). Obviously, a 22 month old toddler doesn't drink wine, but then again, neither do my parents really. But after visiting the malbec region of Mendoza in Argentina a few months ago, we like to go on wine tours/tastings because they're a nice way to spend a relaxing hour or two.

Unfortunately, we only found out about the place at 11AM and their last tour of the day was at 12PM. Fortunately, it was a quick 30 minute drive and we arrived just in time at 11:50AM.

Founded by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, owner of Chateau Lafite in Bordeaux in 1882, you definitely get the feel of the Old World. But if you're thinking the tour is comparable to something you'd find in Bordeaux, France or Napa Valley, California, then you need to manage your expectations. It's definitely not fancy or refined, but it's a very affordable way (just $4-5 USD/person, adorable toddlers are free) to spend 45 minutes learning about wine making in Israel.

The winery is located on Winery Street which goes up a hill/mountain.

They have free parking towards the bottom of the hill, then you walk up the street to the Wine Shop where they sell tickets for the tours and tastings. They did offer tours in English, but the last tour was only in Hebrew. Besides, my grandparents don't speak English.

Unfortunately, they didn't offer any tastings that day because of the Sukkot holiday, but we did get to take the small tour that took us to the basement where they used to store the traditional barrels and then to the modern stainless steel tanks they use today as well as a short film about the rich history of the vineyard.



While we didn't get to do a formal tasting, we did pick up a modestly priced bottle of chilled Riesling for about $9-10 USD and enjoyed it in their outdoor seating section. Even though my parents don't really drink wine, they could tell it wasn't a great bottle, but for $10 in Israel, we weren't expecting any hidden treasures. But it was a nice way to spend a warm summer afternoon before lunch.

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