Last Thursday night I attended the First Annual Kibbutz Wineries Festival at Kibbutz Zikim. I was particularly interested in this event since several wineries I’ve never heard, and a few I know of but whose wines I’ve never tried, would be participating.
My first order of business was getting there. I had no car available, and I prefer not to drive anyway after such an event, so I planned to take the train from Herzlia (where I work) to Ashkelon. The problem is that there are no buses from the Ashkelon train station to Kibbutz Zikim in the evening. I decided to place my trust in a higher power and I got on the train. As luck would have it I sat across the aisle from a fellow who was talking to someone on the phone about getting somewhere from Kibbutz Zikim. After he hung up, I asked him, after apologizing for eavesdropping if he knew how I could get to Zikim from the train station and he graciously offered to take me as his car was parked at the train station. Thus I was spared a 14 km walk or trying my luck hitchhiking.
When I got to the kibbutz, the fair was underway. Tables had been set up on a grassy area outside the kibbutz dining room, and wine was being poured freely. By my count about 14 wineries were represented. A jazz band was playing pleasant background music and there was also food being sold at a few tables.
While many of the wineries present are indeed located on kibbutzim, quite a few, such as Or Haganuz, Teperberg, Anatot, Shiloh, and Har Odem are not, so I don’t quite understand the the name or theme of this event. Never mind.
The wineries ranged from small family operations like the Shesh and Ye’elim Wineries (<1000 bottles annually) to small boutique wineries such as Anatot and Bazak (thousands of bottles) to large boutique wineries such as Odem Mountain and Or Haganuz (many thousands of bottles), and all the way up to large commercial wineries like Teperberg and Galil Mountain.
Those of you who regularly read my postings have probably noticed that I prefer to accentuate the positive and downplay the negative. I will try to do the same here but I will still say that I found many of the wines I sampled to be rather mediocre.
Here’s what I liked (in no particular order).
Har Odem Rosé 2011 made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. A very pleasant fresh tasting rosé. Quite dry but still fruity with a hint of strawberry.
Har Odem Shiraz 2009 – Very mouth-filling, almost viscous, with a marvelous long spicy finish.
Or Haganuz Syrah 2011 – Much more approachable, and better integrated, than I had expected for such a young wine. A winner for me.
Ptora White Wedding 2010 – This is an interesting blend of Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, and Semillon. Actually I did not expect to like this wine at all, and I was surprised to find it quite pleasant. None of the varieties in the blend is overpowering, making this a good match for many foods. Others I spoke too didn’t like it at all, so I guess it’s just a matter of taste.
Ye’elim Cabernet Sauvignin 2007 – Ye’elim is a new winery for me, or so I thought. Giora Glicksman, the winemaker, said he remembered me from the Home Wineries Fair at Tal Shachar several years ago. Since I have attended that fair every year except this last one, he is undoubtedly correct. Giora’s Cabernet is light and fruity. Not for steaks but very nice for lighter meals and warm weather.
Harei Galil Meron 2009 – A blend of Shiraz, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Shiraz generally has a very dominant flavor, so I was surprised with this blend that includes 72% of that variety. In any event this is very well integrated full bodied wine, and I’ll keep a lookout for it on the shelves.
Anatot Shiraz – I forgot to write down the vintage. I saved Anatot for last since I am familiar with their wines and I wanted to try unfamiliar onese first. The problem is that by the time I got there I wasn’t keeping very good notes. All I scribbled is that I like this Shiraz quite a bit, so that’ll have to do. Maybe I should get a secretary.
I want to thank the organizers for putting this event together. As it was billed as “First Annual” I suppose there will be a “Second Annual” next year. At least I hope so. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I am pleased that it was held in a region where such events are rare. I may have had to travel quite a way to get there but at least those who live in the area finally had a wine event near home.
Attendance was quite good and I estimate that there were a few hundred attendees. Since the festival was held in an open area with no fences, wrist bracelets were used to show who had paid. During the evening I heard that they had run out of bracelets, meaning that attendance was higher than expected. Hopefully this will encourage more such events in the area, which is especially good news for wine enthusiasts who live in that region.