Grape Escape: Galilee, Israel




Galilee is an administrative region as well as a registered wine region. Similar to Napa- Napa Valley is a wine region that can go on a bottle, and Napa County is an administrative region that can set taxes. Although the region is located in the Middle East, the climate is Mediterranean – think Greece, not Arizona. The vineyards are scattered throughout the region with many of them clinging to rocky outcroppings at high elevations (1,500 ft) – similar to the mountains in Napa Valley. The resulting wines fall solidly into the fruit forward ‘New World’ style, although the region has grown grapes since ancient times. Honestly, when I was tasting the Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon from Golan Heights I would have swore it was from Sonoma Valley, or a cooler vintage from Napa Valley. 

While Cabernet Sauvignon and other ‘modern’ grapes dominate the viticultural landscape there are other grapes, some that date back to Biblical times like Argaman. Labels for wines from this region may simply say ‘Galilee’, or if sourced from smaller regions: Golan Heights, Upper Galilee or Lower Galilee. 

If you love Jordan, Chateau Montelena or Prisoner, you should try these:

Odem Mountain Chardonnay, Volcanic, Golan Heights 2021  (our Token White wine- can be replaced if desired) Odem Mountain Winery is Israel’s northernmost winery. At 1,100 meters above sea level, it’s tucked away in an enchanting, secluded oak forest in the northern Golan Heights. This dry white wine is produced 100% from Chardonnay grapes, which underwent a slow and cold fermentation process. It was aged in French oak barrels for 5 months. Light golden in color, with aromas of fresh wet earth, red apple, and citrus. This is a smooth wine with a nice, long finish.
Tulip, Just Cabernet Sauvignon, Upper Galilee 2021 From the fastest-growing wine region in Israel, this Cabernet is rich with notes of coffee, clove, and black raspberry. It’s a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Carignan, and 5% Viognier.
Jezreel Alfa, Galilee 2020 This blend of Syrah, Argaman, and Cabernet Sauvignon is named for Beth Alfa, a 6th-century synagogue located at the foot of the Gilboa Mountains. Complex and spicy with a long, lingering finish
Vitkin Winery, Cabernet Franc, Upper Galilee 2016 One of my personal favorites out of Israel. It’s Cabernet Franc first off, which always means a little more structure. But this wine really broke the mold – it tastes Old World. Reminds me of red blends out of Lalande-de-Pomerol in Bordeaux. Crush red berries and potting soil. Maybe I’ll sip some while I garden.
Yarden Syrah by Golan Heights Winery, Galilee 2019 Black pepper and dark fruit dominate on the nose. There is a black cherry note that almost reminds me of the Black Cherry Warheads. Not that this wine is sweet; it is dark, tannic, and just begging to be sipped with a steak.
Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon by Golan Heights Winery, Galilee 2020 This wine feels like a California Cabernet. Specifically, it took me back to drinking the 2011 Silver Oak out of Napa Valley. The flavors and the texture scream California, but it’s from the region Jesus grew up in.


This package is part of our support for the Sip for Solidarity movement.