Golan Heights Winery, Israel’s leading producer of quality wines, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Located in northern Galilee, the winery was established in 1983 by eight local cooperative communities and has made its mark on the Israeli wine world ever since. Exclusively imported by Yarden Inc. in the U.S. Golan Heights Winery produces three labels with a range of varieties and styles: Yarden, Gilgal, and Hermon.
Despite an ancient history, the modern era of Israeli winemaking is relatively recent. For the past 40 years Golan Heights Winery has led the way with a constant vision to develop expertise in every endeavor from viticulture and clonal selection to fine winemaking, sustainability, and technology; efforts that have elevated Israeli wines to the highest levels of international recognition. Among numerous global awards over the years, Golan Heights Winery has attained “Best New World Winery” from Wine Enthusiast; Israel’s first “Top 100” listing in the annual Wine Spectator review; the “Best Winery Award” at VinItaly; and the Platinum Medal and 95 points at Decanter WWA. A driving force for quality standards, Golan Heights Winery created a Nursery & Propagation Block, partnering with world leaders ENTAV-INRA to supply clean virus-free plant material to the emerging Israeli wine industry. Most recently, Golan Heights was the first in Israel to adopt the LODI RULES from California, the global standard in sustainable certification.
All these achievements were unheard of 40 years ago and are cause for considerable pride today, shares Assaf Ben Dov, CEO of the Golan Heights Winery: “To lead Israel’s quality wine culture is not a slogan for us; rather, it is our purpose and way of life for each one of us at the winery. It begins with the study of our terroir, continues through the creation of our wines, and underlines the special activities we undertake for consumers of high-quality wines and wine industry professionals.”
At the forefront of Golan Heights Winery is the shared desire to express terroir-driven wines. Head Winemaker Victor Schoenfeld joined the winery 30 years ago and has attained legendary status for his ability to harness the Golan Heights terroir through constant study, precision viticulture and technological innovation from vineyard to cellar. Schoenfeld and his team share a common passion for the Golan Heights region and collectively manage 1,557 acres planted with 20 grape varieties across 28 vineyards. The unique volcanic soils, extreme winter and summer climate, and varying elevations from 1,300 to almost 4,000 feet lend exceptional identity and range to the terroir. It has been the work of a lifetime for Schoenfeld: “Wine conveys a sense of place. It’s possible to sense a wine’s terroir in its flavor, aroma and color. Wine expresses a place’s culture, language and people.”
Under Schoenfeld’s guidance, Golan Heights Winery has been fearless in their pursuit of introducing new varieties such as Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Gewürztraminer as well as pioneering wine styles, which include Israel’s first icon wine, Yarden Katzrin, the first traditional method sparkling wines (including globally acclaimed Yarden Blanc de Blancs); Moscato made through cryoextraction; Port from original Portuguese varieties; and single vineyard wines that consistently rank among the most awarded from Israel. Technology and innovation are always at the forefront for Golan Heights, which ranks among the most studied and analyzed agricultural sites in Israel. The team practice precision agriculture across 450 vineyard blocks with the most sophisticated irrigation management and green practices such as composting and wind generated electricity. Each vineyard block is mapped and catalogued, with constant monitoring of temperature, soil conductivity, growth and water.
As Schoenfeld is proud to note, Golan Heights Winery “acts as a model for others in the Israeli wine industry.” In 2012, Schoenfeld was a founding member of IPEVO, the Israeli Professional Enology & Viticulture Organization. Now registered as a government non-profit association, IPEVO sets shared Wine Standards for the industry and is highly valued by the local winemaking community.
~News Release submitted by Golan Heights Winery