I honestly think that it is no stroke of luck that has brought Lori and Shaike Lender to open Zafririm Winery in the area that they did. The Lender couple who combine a vast knowledge in Archeology and Art History, have chosen the Judean Hills, a region wealthy in ancient ruins both above and below the ground, to open up their small family winery. Even the wines they produce are named after ruins that are in close proximity to Zafririm Winery.
What stands out to me, even though this is a family winery, is the fact that the whole family joins forces during peak periods such as harvest time and goes grape picking together. Lori had recently told me about a very special small plot of Petite Sirah that she has access to. She has a small luxury that few wine makers enjoy; she can assemble the men in her life [her husband Shaike, and 4 sons] and go out to pick the grapes that they want on the very same day that she feels that they are at their best. Other wineries in Israel have to wait for the cavalry to show up and help along.
Zafririm Winery has been making Old World wine since 2002, and currently produces 4,000 bottles a year. Although I realize that the wine is not getting enough attention, Lori has been dealing with a good problem to have. The wine is selling out, twisting her arm to decide on a date to release the younger vintages. All the wines currently released into the market are 2009 and 2010, anything older is sold out.
From the current selection that is available for sale, my favorite is the 2010 Lavnin. A blend of 40% Syrah, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Petite Sirah, aged 15 months in American and French oak barrels. This is a wine that is soft and elegant, a terrific effort in my humble opinion.