Golan Heights Winery Gilgal Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee 2016

Deep ruby color; black cherry, plum, oak on the nose; black cherry, blackcurrant, blackberry, vanilla, plum, oak on the palate.

Golan Heights Winery Gilgal Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee 2016

Dry; smooth, reserved tannins and balancing acidity (3.52 pH). Moderately bold. Winemaker Victor Schoenfeld consistently goes for elegance and approachability over power, and this effort maintains that direction. Grapes come from Golan Heights in the northernmost part of Israel, generally considered Israel’s premier wine region.

Kosher Lamehadrin—the most stringent level of kosher supervision. Kosher for Passover. Not mevushal—which means it was not boiled, even briefly. That is a good thing, since not heating the wine preserves the flavors, and this wine delivers nice Golan Heights fruit flavors.

The Golan Heights Winery was founded in 1983, two years after Israel extended Israeli law and administration in the territory. Golan Heights Winery includes four brands: Yarden, Golan Heights, Gilgal, and Mount Hermon.

Golan Heights Winery

The Golan Heights Winery is Israel’s leading premier wine maker. Wine Enthusiast named it “New World Winery of the Year” in 2012. The “New World” designation is amusing since it is hard to imagine Israel and the Middle East qualifying as “new world”—but in wine business, New World covers all the wineries not in Europe and adjacent, long-time wine producing countries. The Golan Heights winery and tasting room get very high marks on TripAdvisor; visitors can have a Jeep ride through the vineyards before enjoying apparently (according to several reviewers) great food.

Golan Heights Winery’s 1,500 acres of vineyards stretch from the Sea of Galilee to the snow-capped peaks of Mount Hermon—a region where wine has been made for more than 6,000 years, but only in the past three decades have modern, quality wine efforts been in place. The Golan Heights Winery’s acres are divided into 28 vineyards (96% in Golan Heights) and 430 individual blocks. Each block is monitored individually, then harvested individually and the fruit kept separate through the winemaking process until final blending. There are 16 vine growers who grow 20 grape varieties, 13 red and seven white.

Golan Heights winemaker Victor Schoenfeld

Golan Heights Winemaker Victor Schoenfeld is one of Israel’s most influential winemakers. He graduated from UC Davis in 1988 with a degree in enology. He worked at Robert Mondavi and Preston Vineyards in Sonoma, then Jacquesson & Fils Champagne house before joining Golan Heights. Schoenfeld is strong advocate for new wine-making technology and precise climatic and viticultural analysis. Not surprisingly, the winery embraces sustainable agriculture and environmental responsibility, including solar and wind power, wastewater management, and composting instead of chemical fertilizers.

Golan Heights Winery Gilgal Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee 2016 is solid, standard cab from Israel. While it does not soar to heights—Golan or otherwise—it is completely serviceable as a red wine at this price point, which should be the point of this effort. Golan Heights Winery produces consistent, nice wine. You might think that Israeli wines either need to be extraordinary or, on the other hand, dreadful and only notable because they are kosher. This is kosher, it also is a standard cab. That should be enough, and it is with this effort. Pair with beef; beef short ribs; grilled steak; meatloaf; hamburger; lamb; barbecued chicken; mature, hard cheeses. $16-18

Yarden wines website

Golan Heights Winery tasting room
Yarden vineyard-summer
Yarden vineyard-winter
Mount Hermon