By Laura Goldstein
Israel is known as “ the land of milk and honey,” but dare I say, "wine" should be included in that phrase. Wine is ingrained in the history of the State of Israel as the first modern winery was established by early Zionist settlers. It also features prominently in the culture of the Jewish people, used in blessings as symbol of joy.
Today, there are 380 wineries spread across this tiny country. Many of the wine makers have been trained in different parts of the world, each bringing different styles and sharing them with their peers. This mixing of techniques creates an atmosphere of creativity and a lack of the pretension and strict rules that exist in other wine producing countries. My Israeli Wine Tours, started by Esther Cohen, allows English speakers to experience the dynamic world of Israeli wineries and their products.
|Esther Cohen, CEO of My Israeli Wine Tours|
Esther’s love affair with the sophisticated beverage began with a wine appreciation class that she took while studying abroad in New Zealand during college. The class awakened a passion within her and when she moved back to the States she started attending wine events in the Boston area.
In addition to wine, another passion of Esther's is the State of Israel. Before moving here permanently she worked as an advocate for Israel on college campuses. In 2008 she decided that the best way to demonstrate her commitment to Israel was making Aliyah. After a period of soul searching she decided to make a career out of her love of wine in the country that she so admires.
Her journey in the world of Israeli wine started when she was hired at Tishbi Estate Winery and lived in beautiful Zikron Yaakov in the Carmel. Tishbi is a special place, it was commissioned by the famous Zionist Baron de Rothschild in 1882 and is run by Jonathan Tishbi, the grandson of the original winemaker. At the winery she worked as a waitress and tour guide and helped market the winery to English speakers.
She soon noticed that after her tours the participants were left eager to explore other wineries in the region and around the country. However, it is difficult for foreigners to arrange wine tours, especially to multiple wineries, on their own. For non-Israelis arranging wine tours can be daunting due to a frequent lack of English speaking guides and signs in English not to mention the troubles that come with arranging transportation.
Esther thought up My Israeli Wine Tours in order to help visitors to Israel experience all that Israeli wineries have to offer. With a mission to provide a service for her fellow wine enthusiasts she began researching Israeli wineries intensely and started her website in January of this year.
Esther's brainchild is My Israeli Wine Tours. The company offers customized tours to clients according to their interests and needs. She offers tours in several regions and a choice between kosher, non-kosher, and boutique wineries. The length varies from 1 day to a week and the price varies according to the services provided. The tours mostly feature a look at the vineyards and distilling process as well as a tasting. Since many of the wineries are small and family run the winemakers often like to sit down and chat with the tour participants.
The most popular tours are to Mount Carmel and the Judea Plain and Hills near Jerusalem. These regions are both very close to the major cities of Israel and they have unique histories when it comes to wine. A wine tour of Mount Carmel tells the story of Zionist settlers in the late 1800's while a tour of the Judean Plain and Hills reveals a more ancient past. To arrange a tour e-mail Esther at MyIsraelWineTours@gmail.com.
Started only a year ago, My Israeli Wine Tours is a success, leading 60 tours with 425 participants as well as hosting monthly wine tasting events in Tel Aviv.
Join My Israeli Wine Tours on January 11th at 19:30 for tapas and a wine tasting at Dorsia Restaurant (flyer below) and link to their facebook page for other upcoming events.