Today I’m talking with David Rhodes, who’s well-known as “the Israeli Wine Guy”.  David is not only a wine expert and radio host on Tlv1.fm, he’s written hundreds of articles about Israeli wines, is an event planner, a sommelier and has contributed to a dozen wine festivals in Israel and California. So his professional opinion about Israeli wine festivals is beneficial for anybody who wants to know more about this business or just wants some insight on some of the best ways to spend an evening.

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-Hello, David! I know that during your work week you visit several wine events including wine tours, food exhibitions, different kinds of culinary festivals and the like. What do you think about these kinds of events for someone looking to have some fun? Is it a good idea to spend all day in a winery instead of lying on the beach with your girlfriend? 

Festivals and expos are a great opportunity for a professional to network with other professionals as well as meet serious food and wine connoisseurs. As someone who might attend dozens of these kinds of events in a year, it’s easy to become jaded as far as how interesting they might be for me but as a writer and sometimes promoter of these events, I try to take a step back and see what kind of value and fun they provide for the paying public who is the intended target. I don’t see it as either or choice why you can’t spend one day at a winery or an evening at a festival and snuggle with your girlfriend on the beach. Why not do all three?

-I know that you took part in Salute Wine Festival 2015 in Tel Aviv. Tell us how it was.

Salute Tel Aviv was a great opportunity to have a good time for a good price. Most people paid about 55 NIS to attend and for the price of one good glass of wine at a restaurant or a movie ticket and popcorn guests got to taste dozens of wine for five hours while they listened to live music in a great venue (the Hatachana – Old Turkish Train Station). The bands were engaging, there were good and intriguing wines I tried I hadn’t tried before (which is my challenge as an attending writer) and the hundreds of people who attended each night seemed all have a good time. It was also great for the surrounding businesses as it seemed all the local eateries were packed with people who worked up an appetite. Wine is after all an appetite stimulant besides a beguiling intoxicant.

-Do you want to share with us some information about upcoming wine events? Which of them are you going to visit personally? There’re too many in May, so help us to make right choice.

Too many? Perhaps. It is challenging to attend them all. This week May 20th and 21st, there is the White Festival in Herzliya at the Marina entering its 7th year. It’s a nice way to start the summer with wines perfect for Israel’s several warm dry months. Along the water, the sea breezes and anchored sail boats make for a romantic backdrop. Meanwhile up north, in Haifa, the 19th and 20th there will be their annual festival which is a lot more convenient for residents of Israel’s third largest city than travelling to similar festivals in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. It’s always well attended and well produced. To end the week, Ramat Naftaly in the Galilee will have an afternoon festival for the wineries in the village on the 22nd. The month ends with a regional festival featuring wineries of the north on the 28th and 29th in Rosh Pinna in the Rothschild Gardens on stepped terraces which features many wineries which don’t exhibit elsewhere. I’ll try to attend as many as I can. They all have a unique charm for me based on location, which wines are served or just an opportunity to meet people at one festival I might not meet at another. There’s also a wine festival the last week of June I always look forward to as my local festival.

-At last we want to hear some news about your wine school. Your first class was filling up in several minutes after the beginning of registration. Also you had extremely nice feedback from your students. So what are you future plans about it?

There’s not a lot of opportunities to take wine classes in English in Israel. I wanted to give opportunities to English speakers living In Israel to further their knowledge about wine whether they wanted to learn about wine to explore professional opportunities or wanted to give themselves a foundation for better appreciating wine. The more you know about wine the more you know you don’t know. The one things you should know before taking one classes is to not be afraid about what you don’t know. Everyone including experts have holes in their wine knowledge. There’s too much to know to know it all so never be afraid to not know something about wine. Just see those moments as learning opportunities. There are so many pretentious people in the wine business or even among our friends. A little wine knowledge helps us sniff out what we like about wine, who we can trust in the industry to steer us right, and gives us a base of knowledge to go off on our own journeys exploring wine. Wine for Europeans is considered half of the meal experience and many people aren’t enjoying meals to their fullest. Why not? Meals for some are chores when they can be respites throughout the day, vacations for our senses with wines as not only as a compliment to what we eat but the instrument to us relaxing and escaping whatever trials and tribulations we endured during the week.  My wine classes try to demystify wine, give people a base of knowledge to build upon and have some fun along the way.

You can check with the Tel Aviv Wine Academy on Facebook about upcoming classes or reach me at Israeliwineguy@gmail.com or 054-432-9463