The other day I was discussing the subject of wine tours and wineries with a colleague. She mentioned that when they have tried to encourage tourists to visit wineries the reaction has usually been negative (to the concept not the wines themselves). To some degree this may be because of the bad reputation of kosher wines and the conflation of Israeli and kosher wines. In addition, the response I sometimes get is “Well, we could drink wine anywhere.” That’ true, but you can also see old buildings anywhere, what’s special is the unique connection these buildings have to your people, your religion. It’s the same thing with wine, the wine is connected to the land, it reflects the flavors of where it was grown.
One man who thoroughly understands this is Shuki Yashuv of the Agur winery. The winery, located at Moshav Agur in the Judean Hills has been around since 2001 and began receiving kosher certification several years ago. Agur produces four wines, two reds – Special reserve and Kesem, a white and a rose. My personal favorite is the rose, served slightly chilled on a warm summer night it’s a perfect dinner party wine. But the heart and soul of the winery is Shuki himself and a visit to the winery would not be complete without meeting the vintner himself.
When I interviewed Shuki he spoke about his goal of creating a truly unique Israeli wine, bringing in the local flavors of olives, rosemary and other local herbs and spices. Of course the location is perfect, all around the Judean Hills are the remains of ancient wineries reminding us of the rich history of Jews and wine in the land of Israel.
It should be noted that as small winery Agur is generally open on Saturdays but tastings can be arranged in advance.
So this Independence Day show your patriotism by uncorking your favorite Israeli wine to go with the steak and kebobs, but for heaven’s sake please use a proper glass.