The seeds for Tura Winery were sown in 1997 when Vered and Erez Ben Sa’adon, newly-married and idealistic intent on settling the hills of Samaria and realizing their Zionist values, moved into a caravan on Har Bracha and planted 20 dunam of vines in what would turn out to be one of the most impressive local terroirs. By 2001 their grapes were being sold to leading Israeli wineries such as Carmel and in 2003, with just four barrels, they started their own winery.
Fast forward 15 years and Erez has fourteen varieties in 560 dunam of vineyards on Har Bracha and around Shilo under his green thumb. Tura Winery, now in the nearby settlement of Rachelim, produces 100,000 bottles of wine annually from their own choice grapes with the balance of the fruit being sold to some 30 wineries across Israel.
In a visit last week we had an opportunity to walk amongst the vines and to understand what makes this terroir so special – soil, elevation and climate – along with a wonderful view that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the hills of Jordan on the east.
At the winery we tasted their newly-released 2017 Gewurztraminer white wine and 2017 Rose alongside the 2016 vintages of the same wines.
The Gewurztraminer is a semi-sweet varietal wine. Its reasonable 11.5% alcohol and fresh acidity balancing the tropical fruitiness and heady aroma of the wine.
The fruity semi-sweet Rose is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes harvested especially for this wine. Also at 11.5% alcohol, it has a floral aroma and attractive light salmon-pink color.
While both these wines are a bit too off-dry for my taste, they have proven very popular at a retail price of 79 shekels a bottle. They should be served cold and with their sweet palates will be a refreshing match for a savory Shavuoth meal.
We also tasted their 2015 Mountain Peak red blend and 2015 Mountain Heights Shiraz, both of which took gold medals in Eshkol Zahav 2018. While the Mountain Peak is ready to drink, these wines will benefit from careful aging.
Bottle photos courtesy Tura Winery. All other photos by David Silverman. Copyright © 2018 dpsimages. All Rights Reserved