Golan Heights Winery Yarden Gewürztraminer, Galilee 2019

Pale gold color; lychee, melon, honeysuckle on floral nose; lychee, passion fruit, melon, tangerine, peach, ginger, hint of honey on the palate.

Golan Heights Winery Yarden Gewürztraminer, Galilee 2019

Off-dry; touch of sweetness and honey. Medium body; excellent acidity (3.05 pH). Fresh, nice clean, ripe fruit notes. Some saline notes interplay with the honey touch providing a pleasing juxtaposition in the mid-palate and finish. Kosher for Passover, but not mevushal. 14.5% ABV

The 2019 vintage followed one of the wettest winters in years, ending five years of drought. Spring was unusually cool, quickly followed by a warm May, then average temperatures through mid-September. A late September heat wave accelerated ripening. In all, the conditions were excellent for gewürztraminer, as this pour demonstrates.

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 is the premier bottling. Yarden refers to the Jordan River (Yarden in Hebrew) which celebrates the Golan Heights from Galilee.

Golan Heights Winery

The Galilee (or Galil) is the most northern, and generally considered the best, appellation in Israel. The highest quality area within the appellation is the Golan Heights, the coldest region in Israel. The vineyards on this volcanic plateau rise from 1,300 feet above sea level to 3,900 feet and receive snowfall in the winter. Golan Heights Winery is located in the town of Katzrin in the central Golan.

Golan Heights Winery
Golan Heights Winery tasting room

The Golan Heights Winery is Israel’s leading premier winemaker. 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 the wine business, New World covers wineries not in Europe or adjacent, long-time wine-producing countries. The Golan Heights winery and tasting room get high marks on TripAdvisor; visitors can have a Jeep ride through the vineyards before enjoying apparently (according to several reviewers) great food.

Yarden vineyard-summer
Yarden vineyard-winter

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 blocks. Each block is monitored individually, then harvested individually and the fruit kept separate through the winemaking process until final blending. There are 16 vinegrowers 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.

Mount Hermon

Golan Heights Winery Yarden Gewürztraminer, Galilee 2019 comes from vineyards in the cool northern Golan Heights, ideal for quality gewürztraminer. Add excellent weather conditions, and you get a quality effort, as this most certainly is. The hints of sweetness and dash of saline enhance the drama. Works as an aperitif; pair with spicy Korean lamb ribs; red lentil Indian curry; other spicy foods. Rich fish; poultry; Cheese—münster, morbier, raclette, livarot, taleggio. $22

Golan Heights website