Adam Montefiore, involved in the wine industry before making aliyah from England in 1989, began working upon his arrival at Carmel Mizrachi. Living in Ra'anana with his wife Jill and their two children, Adam joined the Golan Winery in 1992 and has become its International Marketing Manager. He takes particular pride in "being personally involved with such a young, exciting company," feeling that he has been "partially responsible for its success. I particularly enjoy reminding my friends in England of their jibes about Israeli wine being too sweet and not tasting very good!"
One of the most visible Anglo-Saxon personalities working in the wine industry in Israel today is Valerie Hecht. Valerie, who hails from Scotland, has worked for the last six years as a tour guide and trainer for wine waiters in the Golan Winery's Visitor's Center. The center entertains more than 100,000 visitors every year, many coming from overseas. A member of Kibbutz El-Rom, she made aliyah in 1983 with her husband and four children. Valerie, whose manner is pleasant and unflappable, is an excellent ambassadress both of the Winery and also of the English-speaking community in Israel.
Now, where is wine without its critics? Wine culture is cloaked in a thick garb of terminology and manners, holding the unitiated at bay. A master of that sniffing and nodding is acclaimed food critic, former American, Daniel Rogov. Proclaiming that "I adore wine so much that I am the ultimate wine snob," Daniel believes firmly that "the best wine is the one you enjoy the most. I am also opinionated enough that I enjoy sharing my evaluations of the wines I experience."
Daniel's comments, reflections and regular column in the daily "Ha'Aretz" on food and wine are held in high regard.
Daniel claims that, "because they reflect the individuality of their winemakers, some of the most interesting wines now come from boutique wineries...." In a review of a wine by the relatively new Saslove label, tasted in September of 1999, Daniel writes, "Saslove Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Aviv, 1998: Made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes hand picked at one of the best vineyards at Kerem Ben Zimra in the North. This is by far the best wine produced by this young boutique winery to date. Aged partly in French and partly in American oak barrels for three months before being blended, the wine is remarkably smooth and polished, especially considering its youth. It has an appealing array of aromas and flavors of black currants, black cherries, plums and spices all overlayed by smoky-vanilla flavors imparted from the oak. With firm but smooth tannins, the wine is drinkable now and should continue to develop nicely in the bottle over the next few years. Worthwhile buying a case or more to see how the wine develops over the next two or three years.. Score 90."
Not bad for a newcomer to the industry. Former Canadian, Barry Saslove , who made aliyah in 1967, rose through the ranks of Israel's famous hi-tech industry for more than twenty-five years. But he admits with a smile that his "real love is for wine." In a brave career change, Barry decided to leave a secure position and try his luck in the wine industry. His first tentative steps were organizing and holding courses in wine education where he enjoyed considerable success. Expanding his activities into private industry, Barry runs special courses on wine culture to executives, especially those involved in hi-tech. " I could sense the immense public interest in wine culture, and that is what gave me the confidence to take the major step of establishing my own winery. " The winery, situated on Kibbutz Eyal near Ra'anana has managed to produce exceptionally fine wines at reasonable prices. Encouraged by initial results and the reactions of his customers to his product, Barry is proud of having established a winery in Israel where he feels the potential for expansion is wide open. He anticipates that his winery will go into profit within the next two years, and begin to export a few years after. His dream, he confesses, is to export to Ottawa, Canada. The proud father of three daughters, Barry laughs, "at least this way I will have succeeded in perpetuating the family name through the Saslove label." He calls on any recently or soon to be qualified wine makers either in California or from Brisbane, Australia to consider Israel as a serious possibility for practicing their profession.
by Albert Hecht
Albert Hecht, who made aliyah from Glasgow in 1982, writes for an agricultural journal and lives on Kibbutz El-Rom.