Move over Manischewitz: 4 Israeli kosher wines that are perfect for Passover

    If you think Kosher wine is only good for dripping on your plate while you count the plagues, have I got some good news for you! Israel produces some really nice selections that might surprise you. Here are four finds you can pick up locally and proudly serve at your Seder.

    1Lueria Winery – Shiraz 2014

    Yosef Sayada’s vineyards are located in the very heart of the Upper Galilee, on the western slopes of Mount Meron, 840-890 meters above sea level. The unique soil combines limestone, basalt, and red clay. Yosef’s son Gidi Sayada is in charge of wine production, which takes place in a nearby cooperative Israeli settlement (“moshav”) called Safsofa.

    Lueria Shiraz is made from 100% Shiraz grapes and has a deep purple color, rich flavors of dark fruit, blackberry, plums, and pepper, and a long lingering aftertaste. The wine has aged 16 months in French oak barrels. If you like a big bold wine, this one’s for you.

    2Benhaim Winery – Cabernet Franc Reserve 2014

    Benhaim is a boutique winery located in Ramat Hasharon. Since 1932, six generations of the Ben-Haim family have made high-quality hand-crafted wines at this unique urban winery. Itay Ben-Haim is chief winemaker; he oversees the whole process from the fields to the bottles.

    This is a dry red produced from 85% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, and 5% Petite Sirah. The grapes are sourced from the winery’s vineyards at Mount Meron in the Upper Galilee. Aged in oak for 24 months, this wine is rich and full, with an elegant body that shows off the intensity of red fruits, followed by a long finish.

    3Tura Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

    Tura winery is a family-run “estate winery” with vineyards planted on an 850-meter high mountain near Bracha community in the Samaria region. The high altitude and mountain terrain provide the optimal climate for growing superb grapes. Manual handling along with a lot of patience and inspiration produce exceptional wines.

    The couple behind the winery are Erez and Vered Ben Sa’adon, who work together with their five children to tend 500,000 sqm of vineyards and agriculture.

    This is a dry red. The grapes are harvested from the oldest of the winery’s plots and aged for about 22 months in mostly-new French oak barrels. This is a heavy, rich wine with a very dark red color, balanced acidity, and hints of vanilla, plum, cocoa, and tobacco. It’s full-bodied and has a beautiful long finish.

    4Five Stones Winery – Virtuous 2015

    Five Stones Vineyards is located in Tel Azekah in the Elah Valley, the region of the mythic battle between David and Goliath. There, fertile soil and high precipitation levels create an ideal environment for grapes.

    Virtuous is a premium blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot and 9% Malbec. The varieties were aged separately for 15 months in new French oak barrels before blending. The wine is deep red in color with aromas of blackberry and oak and dominant fruity flavors. It is an elegant wine with interesting complexity and a long finish.

    L’Chiam!

    Daniel Tzairi
    World traveler, DSLR & GoPro photographer, currently in Israel.