This week’s article seems to continue where July 1st’s Kosher Congress left off.
“The Israeli wine revolution continues & is strengthening, crossing political lines & geographic terrain in search of depth of taste” &, “preparing for the day that wine libations are once again offered in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem,” according to a report by Ezra HaLevi this week in Arutz-7 entitled “Fruit of the Land – Israel´s Wine Revolution”:
Producing kosher wine, by definition, necessitates not only Avoda Ivrit (Hebrew labor) – that Jews perform every step of the process – but that the winemakers be intimately in touch with the soil, rainfall & topography of their vineyards.
(Excessively redundant plug for pp. 75-6 & 377-8 of my book.)
The article features 8 vintners, but 3 in particular caught my attention being near 2 important LMLK sites: Beth Shemesh & Hebron.
The Ella Valley Winery is located near ancient winepresses in the Gush Etzion-Beit Shemesh region (a depiction of the ancient wine-presses appears on their labels). It is 7 years old & the winemaker said it takes 4 or 5 years for grapes to reach a maturity necessary to produce wine. In any event, according to Jewish law, fruit of the tree & vine cannot be used in the first 3 years as it has the Biblical status of “orla”.
(Note: 1 LMLK handle was found at Nes Harim, which is the primary vineyard of Ella Valley east of Beth Shemesh. Details of it have never been published.)
Wine was a crucial part of the services & sacrifices in the Holy Temple, & the regions north & south of Jerusalem were covered with vines & speckled with wine-presses. Winemaker Yoram Cohen of Tanya Winery, was “infected with the wine bug” after helping his father produce wine from grapes harvested by local Jewish farmers in the southern Hevron Hills. The grapes used by Cohen were grown in the Hevron Hills & Gush Etzion, as well as the Samarian towns of Dolev & Har Bracha. The vines in Har Bracha are on the side of the highest mountain in the region, overlooking Shechem & Joseph’s Tomb. The grapes are all harvested at night to ensure that the fermentation process does not begin prematurely.Another winery whose popularity has taken the market by storm by proudly marketing its location in the center of the Biblical heartland is the Noah/Hevron Heights Winery, the brainchild & inspiration of a group of dedicated and committed French Jewish immigrants to Israel – to bring kosher winemaking back to the original site of Jewish habitation in the Land of Israel. They produce wines with names like “Isaac’s Ram” & “Makhpelah Special Reserve”, made with grapes grown near Hevron’s Makhpela Cave of the Patriarchs where the Jewish patriarchs are buried. Hevron Heights Winery’s “Isaac’s Ram Cabernet” depicts the ram sent by God to Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son Isaac.
It’s way cool to see the traditions continuing despite so many historical obstacles such as the present conflict surrounding Israel!
(Late-breaking news: I just received my copy of the latest Israel Philatelist magazine featuring my article with a color cover photo! Details next week…)