The city of Mashad is Iran’s second largest city, revered as the country’s holiest city and the center of Persia’s famous carpet production. The city is located far to the east of the country on the border with Afghanistan.
The Jewish community, long established there, was forced to convert to Islam in Mashad in 1839. To escape persecution, Moshe Haruni, from a long-established Jewish family in Mashad, a silk carpet merchant, emigrated to India (under difficult conditions) from Mashad to sell his luxurious silk carpets and reestablish his family. In Bombay (now Mumbai), Haruni met an Indian gem merchant who persuaded him to look into the gem business. The Haruni family business was transformed by this encounter. Moshe’s three sons, Eli, Mat and Aaron built on their father’s business and established themselves in England, in London’s Hatton Garden. The company now also has offices in Geneva and Israel and is known worldwide as an important source of fine gems and is supplier to many fabled jewelry retailers. The business is now managed by Mat’s son, Richard Haruni.
In 1995, already established in Israel, Mat Haruni and his other son, Alex Haruni, decided to enter the wine business. In some ways, they followed in the footsteps of other great British Jewish families notably the Rothschilds and the Montefiores. They found excellent conditions and “terroir” in the Galilee, in northern Israel, and established Dalton Winery.