On occasion, we are asked to conduct a multi-day wine tour to the north of Israel and we absolutely love it. These tours enable us to have our guests visit 3 wineries for tastings and yet another for lunch each day. The vistas of the Galilee and Golan regions are incredible and always add to the experience. At the end of July, we conducted a 2 day Upper Galilee and Golan Heights wine tour with Ellen and Debbie. One of the 7 wineries we visited and enjoyed was Assaf winery.
Assaf is a family winery in the Golan Heights. The winery has recently relocated and is now just outside Moshav Kidmat Zvi. The brand new facilities are a part of the Kedem wine village, a first of its kind in Israel. The new visitor center has been operating in the past year and offers several tasting rooms as well as a Café in which serves fresh pastries and bread that are baked on premises. Assaf’s daughter, Adi has graduated from the French Culinary institute in NYC and the plan is to open a full restaurant in the near future. The village will also offer wooden Cabins or “Tzimerim” as we call them in Hebrew.
On the day on which we visited Assaf winery in late July 2013, we were greeted by his son, Oren who took us around the winery and led our tasting session. Oren spent a year in Sonoma California getting experience at a winery there and is a graduate of the Katzrin College Wine program so in affect the winery has a senior wine maker and a young wine maker as well. He told us that the family has been growing grapes since 1990 and began producing wine in 1997. Unlike many grape growers in Israel, the family does not buy or sell grapes. Under the supervision of wine maker Assaf Kedem, They Kedem family simply produces wine from the grapes that they grow. The current count in production is about 45,000 bottles a year. This village very much seems like the end result of an ongoing effort, even the tasting table was built especially by Oren’s brother.
As far as wines: we tried the Chenin Blanc which was a pleasant surprise, this is a rare variety in Israel and a very nice effort, as well as the Sauvignon Blanc that on four occasions has received 90 and above from the late and Great Daniel Rogov. When it came time to taste the reds, we tried the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Silver, The four seasons Pinotage which was my personal favorite. A blend of Pinotage , Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet franc , and the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve which has 89% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cab Franc . This is a wine that aged 18 months and in 2008 has received a 92 from Daniel Rogov. The wines were impressive and the new visitor center is beautiful. Not to be missed on your next Golan heights wine tour!