Via Vino – Wine and Tourism in Gush Etzion
The Gush Etzion region boasts a venerable winemaking tradition. The region is chock-full of ancient wine presses that hikers will encounter. Gush Etzion is part of the land allotted to the tribe of Judah who was blessed by his father Jacob with abundant wine and vineyards - “Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine" (Genesis 49:11). This blessing has extended to contemporary vineyards planted on the mountain slopes at an altitude of 900 m. The rocky mountainous terrain features natural drainage and is abetted by a cold climate and major temperature differentials between summer and winter, day and night. These factors combine to award the locally grown wines with their splendid taste.
Winery Tour - The Ferency Winery, the Lone Tree Beer Brewery – Gush Etzion Winery – Jerusalem Hills – Lavi Winery -Tekoa Winery
Tip: those coming from Jerusalem are advised to reverse the route and arrive from Jerusalem's Har Homa neighborhood.
The Ferency Vineyard- a boutique organic winery - Bat Ayin
Our tour begins in the picturesque Bat Ayin community with a visit to a boutique winery that uses organic grapes exclusively. In 1993 the first vineyards in the region were planted in order to supply the regional wineries. In 2008, Gershon Ferency began manufacturing his homemade wine and this quickly expanded into commercial production. This year the winery manufactured 5000 bottles, which is projected to double by next year.
The grape species, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are all under stringent Kashrut supervision.
Tours are available by advance booking and can be combined with a tour of the archaeological site in the community including an explanation about the historic wine press.
Volunteers interested in harvesting the grapes and assisting in the entire process are invited to make contact.
For further details: 02-9932490 054-4534425 www.gershonferency.com
While you are there it is worth seeing Hirbat Halel, an archaeological site at the entrance to the community. It contains remnants, including an ancient wine press, of a Jewish community from the time of the 2nd Temple. Later on visit the Hubala Spring and the remnants of Massuot Yitzhak, a community that was destroyed in Israel's 1948 War of Independence. Gavna Retaurant was built near the remnants and this picturesque bucolic restaurant serving dairy and fish cuisine overlooks a beautiful river bed. Bat Ayin offers acess to the Ein Livne Spring another lovely spot that should not be missed.
The Lone Tree Brewery- Beer au Naturel
We leave the Bat Ayin community, reach a traffic circle, enter a paved road and drive to the parking area. The brewery is located in the heart of Gush Etzion and manufactures 100% natural beer guaranteeing the highest quality in Israel. When it was recently opened the brewery received outstanding accolades. Seven varieties of beer are manufactured. The brewery was established by Miriam and David Shire, veteran immigrants from Tunisia and Scotland together with Susan and Yohanan Levine newly arrived immigrants from the United States.
The Lone Tree Brewery has brought to Gush Etzion a venerable tradition of true boutique beer that is fresh and uses exclusively natural products. The beer is also strictly kosher.
Tours: groups, families, and individuals are welcome to tour and sample the boutique brews. Reservations in advance (for obvious reasons the visit is unsuitable for children).For further details: 0542345439 ,0505306036 www.lonetreebrewery.com
Things to do:
Check out the wildlife sanctuary in nearby Deer Land Park or take a jeep safari (17 places). There’s a playground for the little ones and extreme sports for the more adventurous, including the country’s longest zipline. Challenge yourself with a dune buggy ride. Before returning to the main road turn into Kibbutz Kfar Etzion and take in the sound and light show on the history of Gush Etzion, the southern defense of Jerusalem before the State of Israel was established. At the entrance to the Kibbutz you’ll find the Teva Na’ot Outlet – shoes for the whole family.
Other vineyards in the area:
Gush Etzion Boutique Winery and Restaurant – at the crossroads
Go back to the main road and drive east, passing Alon Shvut on the way. A left turn brings us to the parking lot of the winery (go around the nearby circle and back again to reach the parking lot).
The Gush Etzion Winery and Visitors Center is situated in the heart of Gush Etzion between verdant vineyards. This young, modern wine boutique has won several gold and silver medals for the high quality of its wines.
Nearly twenty years ago Efrat resident Shraga Rosenberg decided to revive the ancient tradition of winemaking by planting the first vines in the region. He was joined by several local kibbutzim and organic farmers, until vineyards and vines once again flourished in the area. Shraga, who started out making wine in the small basement of his house, opened his new winery in September 2004 at the Gush Etzion crossroads. A metal bridge lets visitors watch the winemaking process. The fragrant scents of fermentation, effervescence, and wines aging in barrels are a true feast for the senses. All wines are strictly kosher under the supervision of the Gush Etzion rabbinate, and bear the OU stamp. The winery and restaurant are accessible for the handicapped.
A strictly kosher gourmet fish and dairy restaurant also operates on the premises.
Tours: Sunday to Thursday 10:00 to 17:00. Friday 10:00 to 14:00. Tours must be booked ahead of time.
Restaurant hours: Sunday to Thursday 9:00 - 23:00. Friday 9:00 - 14:00. Saturday evenings (in winter) until midnight.
For more details call: 02-9309220 or visit our site: www.gushetzion-winery.co.il
Also worth a visit: The Adam Ve’adama ceramic studio is located in the Alon Shvut industrial center, just before the winery. Here you can see pottery created by mother and daughter artists Yona and Ziona.
Opposite the winery, in Etzion Fortress, is a tourist information center, camping outlet, and more…
Judean Hills Boutique Winery, Elazar
From the traffic circle continue left on highway 60 until you reach Elazar. Nestled in the heart of Elazar on Patriarchs Way, a boutique winery is continuing the tradition of producing old wines with new technology. The winery’s unique design makes it possible to drop the grapes directly through the roof into fermentation vats, using the gravitation method to separate stems and seeds. Wines, aged in oak barrels, are stored in a cave carved from the rock to ensure ideal temperature and moisture conditions. Combined with the pure air of the Jerusalem hills, this perfectly expresses the enchantment of Zion and the glory of ancient times.
All the grapes are grown in the Gush Etzion vineyards. Two species are produced: Merlot Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Jerusalem Hills Winery
Established by Yochai Noy and Ya’acov Goldberg in 2007, this winery produces 4,000 bottles per year. The wine is kosher lemehadrin, under the supervision of the Gush Etzion rabbinate. Tours must be booked ahead of time.
For more details, call: 052-5456759 pt 02-9932312 or contact: Jerusalem.firstname.lastname@example.org
Leaving the Jerusalem Hills Winery, set out along the Patriarchs Way and you will come across the ruins of a very old mikve (ritual bath). The area is steeped in ancient history, going back to the time of Abraham, the Temple period, the Roman conquest, the wars of the Maccabees, all the way to the battles of 1948. At the northern end of the trail you will come to the Biar – an underground aqueduct from the time of Herod, that conveyed water to Jerusalem.
The Bet David gallery in Elazar specializes in unusual wood crafts. If you’re coming with the whole family, we highly recommend a visit to the Havayot therapeutic animal center. Ruti’s gift shop in nearby Neve Daniel is where you will find delightful and unique Israeli gifts. And if you’re hungry, Shiffon bakery offers a wide array of tempting breads and baked goods.
Lavie Winery – liqueurs Etzion Industrial Park, next to Efrat
Leaving Neve Daniel travel south on Route 60, turning left at the traffic light in the direction of Efrat, passing the gate, and turning left into Etzion Industrial Park.
The Lavie boutique winery produces a variety of international award-winning choice liqueurs. It gets its name from the lion (lavie), the emblem of the tribe of Judah, upon whose land the winery is located.
It all began in 2000 with a dream – the dream of producing domestic wines for family and friends. By 2003 the winery had developed high quality chocolate liqueur, and in 2004 it expanded into a commercial venture.
In 2007 the Lavie Winery won the Terravino gold medal for its bitter chocolate liqueur, and in 2008 it was awarded the Terravino silver medal for its caramel liqueur.
Tekoa Organic Winery
Return to the main road and drive east to Tekoa.
The Tekoa boutique winery produces organic dry red wine and wine vinegar.
Dov Levy-Noimand hails from Beaujolais, in the north-eastern region of France, a place said to have more vineyards than people and more wine than water. Dov started producing wine at home in 1985, and by 1995 it had become a commercial venture. To avoid seasonal fluctuations, he built his unusual winery underground, near the family home. He produces two species: Cabernet Sauvignon and Berlinka. Take a stroll around the courtyard to view Dov’s art gallery and sculptures. All wines are under the supervision of the Gush Etzion Religious Council.
Tours must be booked ahead of time.
For more information call: 02-9964903, 054-230737
Regional attractions:. Close to Tekoa, the Sde Bar dairy offers a wide variety of goat milk products. And don’t miss a visit to Herodion national park, King Herod’s palace and tomb.
From Herodion, a road leads back to Jerusalem via Har Homa.
More attractions in Gush Etzion: Kfar Etzion field school offers guided tours with the option of meals and lodgings. Share in navigational games on foot or in vehicles, participate in paintball and field games, or enjoy the facilities of a boutique hotel.
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