I had a wonderful group of 14 people for a half day wine tour. Since the majority of the people were short in time I picked two wineries that are well known for their wine qualities and for being close enough to Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion Airport.

The tour started with an amazing overlook over vineyard’s view (location is a kept secret) while explaining the history of wine making in Israel, starting few thousand years ago till today. After I managed to surprise the group with stories about the location of where we were standing, we went for a short drive to the Ella Valley Vineyards.  The beautiful vineyards are located on Kibbutz Netiv Halamed-He.  The location is just about were in biblical times young David fought Goliat.  The winery’s visitor center is decorated with old wooden furniture and has a big glass window overlooking the tanks’ room.
After watching the movie about the vineyard’s location and wine making operations, the group had a guided tour in the space where wine is actually made and kept.
We tasted 4 different wines:  Ella Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (I can’t forget its tropical fruity aroma), Vineyard’s choice RR 2004, Ella Valley Shiraz 2006 (my favorite) and Ella Valley Muscat Dessert wine 2006. Leaving the winery with their hands full I understood that my guests liked the wines….
Next on our tour we stopped at a “Tzuk loner’s Ranch” for some amazing goat cheeses. The ranch is considered to be loners since it does not connected to any electricity or water pipes and only off-road leads to the ranch.
Our final stop was at Karmei Yosef Winery of Rt. 44.  Again (yes!!!) we had to do some off- road driving (everyone loved it!) only this time it was in between the grape  vine rows. The winery’s visitors’ wooden deck is surrounded by grape vines with red leaves (typically for the season) from all sides, which gives an amazing relaxed atmosphere feeling.  We met on the visitor deck PhD. Ben Ami Bravdo one of two professors of oenology that founded and own this winery. The group tasted the Karmei Yosef Chardonnay 2008 with a remarkable aroma and taste), the merlot 2007, and the Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.
We all wanted to stay there but we ran out of time and had to leave this paradise, until next time.  For a half day tour my guest and I were very pleased and we are waiting for the next tour.