Wine Tasting at Gvaot Winery: A Higher Standard of Quality


The view from Gvaot Winery is literally breathtaking...It’s a good thing our correspondent was handed a bottle of wine from their prizewinning Gofna series to help him calm down and catch his breath! But by the end of the visit, he was still raving about the spectacular wine he tasted at Gvaot Winery.

Having a vineyard is challenging business. How challenging? It returns the investment only seven years later. Until then, you need to make sure to tend to the grapes, wait three years before beginning to harvest them, water them precisely so that they won’t be tasteless but not filled with water either, decide when the time is right to harvest, and then organize the harvesters and hope for the best.

Gvaot Winery 1.jpg

The wall of medals and prizes awarded to Gvaot Winery.

Running a winery is challenging business too. How challenging? You need to find and purchase the right grapes for the right price, produce grape juice from them, maintain a high level of sterility, careful acidity, sugar and alcohol levels, place in barrels and wait anywhere between a few months to two years for the finished product...all while hoping that Murphy’s Law doesn’t surprise you and nothing goes wrong.

Eliav Miller from Gvaot Winery, who chose both of these challenging businesses, sums it all up in one sentence: “A winery is a commitment, a business that combines the thrill of creating something new with a love of working with your hands - a business that gets the entire family involved.”

When you stand atop Givat Harel, between the vineyard of Cabernet grapes and the Gvaot Winery building, and gaze at the vineyards all around you, you understand how much faith and dedication is needed to finally reach the stage when you can raise that glass of wine.


The winery reached its peak in 2009, the year that it won a double gold medal for its flagship wine - Masada, a silver medal for its Gofna Cabernet Reserve, and an award for Best Boutique Winery of the Year.


From the Faculty of Agriculture to a Successful Boutique Winery

Gvaot Winery is situated at the beginning of the incline of Givat Harel, just walking distance from the mountain’s highest point and at the perfect position for the rows of grapes planted in its vineyard to benefit from an angle that does not need much irrigation. Walking on Givat Harel’s summit trail, it is evident why someone would pick this location to begin this type of adventure: the wine presses that dot the landscape are testimony to the fact that hundreds of years ago, wine was being produced right here. A look at the surrounding area reveals several different vineyards.

Like all good stories, this one wasn’t planned in advance, but was rather an experiment that succeeded beyond the expectations. When Shivi Drori was studying at the Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot over 10 years ago, he began to plant a vineyard on this mountain, and when he saw that the produce was good, he made some of it into wine. The result surprised both him and his friends, and the decision to establish a winery on the hilltop was quickly made. Amnon Weiss joined as a partner and the winery was named Gvaot, which means “hills” in Hebrew.

Vineyards Gvaot Winery 2.jpg

Vineyards - Gvaot Winery

The concept behind Gvaot, as Eliav explains it, is “within tractor distance.” Meaning, the distance from which the tractor can bring in grapes after the morning harvest while they are still cold. The coldness is important in the process of squeezing the grapes, but the underlying value that Eliav is referring to is that the wine is from here, from Givat Harel and the hills adjacent to it. He mentions that on rare occasion, they have used grapes from the southern Golan Heights, but their goal is to make wine from the hills surrounding the Shiloh Valley.

“Our values are important to us, but for our customers, the emphasis is our quality.”

Their first harvest was in 2005, and ever since, the winery has been growing and developing. Today, it is already a success story, with 50,000 bottles and exports to the United States, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada and even France, the land where wine always flows. The winery produces three series: Gvaot, its classic series, Gofna, its reserve series, and Masada, its flagship wine, a premium aged wine.

At the beginning, when Gvaot Winery needed the external recognition, they would send their wines to competitions, but today, Eliav says that they don’t need these “stamps of approval” anymore. If you look closely, you’ll see a few certificates on the walls of the winery, with the peak year being 2009, the year that it won a double gold medal for its flagship wine - Masada, a silver medal for its Gofna Cabernet Reserve, and an award for Best Boutique Winery of the Year.

As far as Eliav is concerned, the connection to the land, the hills and the Shiloh Valley in the Binyamin mountains are the heart and soul of the winery. Or in other words, the actualization of these values are what’s important to the winery owners. But for the customers, the emphasis is definitely the quality, taste and originality of the head winemaker, Dr. Shivi Drori. Strict quality standards that must be met, from the thorough examination of the wine components by the Wine Institute and Standards Institute - including the level of turbidity and alcohol level, and down to the satisfaction guarantee on the product, which is the bottle of wine that the customer buys in stores.


Like all good stories, this one wasn’t planned in advance, but was rather an experiment that succeeded beyond the expectations.  When Shivi Drori was studying at the Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot over 10 years ago, he began to plant a vineyard on this mountain, and when he saw that the produce was good, he made some of it into wine.


In barrels resting in the winery, you will find an interesting variety of wine made of Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Gewürztraminer and Chenin blanc. Preference is given to locally produced grapes and indeed, the view from the winery displays more and more land that has been turned into vineyards. But for good wine, the winery staff is willing to follow Shivi, the head winemaker, to even further places.

Wine Tasting: Forget the Fancy Lingo, the Wine is Simply Amazing

Wine tastings at Gvaot Winery are held by prior reservation through the winery’s Facebook page, inside a quiet wooden room. You could say that it happens in an atmosphere reminiscent of the setting where the grapes are grown. Bottles from the various series are arranged on the wall. In the middle of the room is a large wooden table surrounded by chairs, and to the side are the certificates testifying to the many competitions won. Simple, magical, inviting.

Wine Gvaot Winery 3.jpg

It’s hard to choose. The wines of Gvaot Winery

On the table is a bottle of Chardonnay Cabernet 2016 from the Gofna series, a blend composed of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The series includes 3,000 bottles and was bottled just recently, in May 2017.  Those who don’t know much about wine can skip to the next paragraph, and those who just raised an eyebrow can read these lines again: yes, a white Chardonnay wine with 20% Cabernet, the variety used for red wine.

Eliav says that this wine represents what’s so great about Gvaot Winery, especially Shivi Drori’s creativity and professionalism as a winemaker. This blend creates a white Chardonnay wine with volume, aromas and tastes of a red Cabernet. These grapes are squeezed in a special cold press process that enables full use of the white colored juice without a touch of the color from the red variety.

In the taste test, you can feel the precision of this wine’s description. It was missing the dry taste characteristic of Chardonnay, and its taste was indeed richer, inviting me to pour another glass. By the way, we took this wine to hear the opinion of wine experts in another place, without giving them the preliminary explanation. Indeed, the satisfied look on their faces proved that this wine is something special.

Among the reds, the recommended wine is the Masada Vintage 2013, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot from the winery’s vineyards in the Shiloh Valley.  This wine has rested for 22 months in a French oak wood barrel. It is rich in flavor, powerful, yet fun to drink and not sharp. But, like any fine wine, it should be opened about an hour or even more before drinking it.

One of the things we loved about Gvaot is that during the entire visit and tasting ceremony, which lasted about two hours, the word “astringency” was not mentioned even once. Maybe it was us, maybe it was the winery staff, who have already won competitions and supplied wine to the finest restaurants in Israel, but the feeling that we left with was of dedication, hard work and commitment to one thing: making wine.

Atop that hill, located in the triangle between the Shiloh Valley, Eli and Maale Levona, you can sit, pour a glass and enjoy a level of quality that doesn’t feel the need to brag about itself.

For more about the Gvaot Winery experience, click here

 

Sharing is caring