Tag Archives: Cabernet

BenHaim Winery

BenHaim 1s

I always thought that most of Israel’s wineries are situated in the Golan Heights, so you could imagine my surprise when I discovered that I have a boutique winery just under my nose in Ramat-HaSharon, adjacent to Tel-Aviv north border. I was amazed to realize that I pass right next to the place twice a week when I jog by the road leading from the city noise to the grapefruit orchards of Kibbutz Glil-Yam. So what can one do with a winery by the house? The first thing to do is to knock on the door and ask to have a taste.

BenHaim Winery is a small family business with an interesting history. Itay BenHaim is a big man that rides a Harley, and he’s got a large smile and loud laughter of a man that’s got wine in his soul. Those qualities, most likely, led him to be the vintner. Itay doesn’t waste much time on talking and opens a bottle of a 2007 Cabernet-Sauvignon. Deep into our drinking he starts telling about his great grand-father who built wine barrels in Romania. The oak wine barrel have a very important role in making the wine. It gives the wine the right amount of oxygen that it needs during the maturation process. When the BenHaim family came to Israel in the early 40th, they kept their Wine Barrel production tradition. In those days their barrels were bought by Carmel Mizrahi famous winery, but also by Assis company that used the barrels for their juices.

old photo - s

(BenHaim Wine Barrel Factory. Haifa, 1951)

Many years later, when the wine barrel factory wasn’t profitable anymore, the BenHaim family decided not to surrender and to continue their heritage in the wine industry. They acquired their vineyard on the biblical mount Meron at the Upper Galilee. After the grape harvest the fruits are being broken and chilled next to the vineyard, and only then sent to the winery in Ramat-HaSharon, in order to preserve its qualities. Itay BenHaim emphasizes the fact that they make the wine by the ancient methods and tradition. It means that the wine is being aged in the barrel for 24 to 30 months before it goes for another aging period in the bottles.

Drinking makes you heavy, so Itay makes us stand on our feet, and leads us to the barrel room, where he do most of the work, monitoring the aging process of the wine. Like a good Romanian, Itay has a weak spot for Port Wine. He proudly introduces the barrel where he’s slowly aging a 9 years Port Wine. By the end of 2013 the Port will grow up to be 10, and then it will be launched to the market in a special edition. He gives me a taste of the Port and I’m in heaven. Well, I’m also part Romanian…

We head back to the welcoming parlor. BenHaim Winery is not a big place, but it has a lot of character in the interior design, with outdated wine barrels stacked together from wall to wall, among them all kind of wine bottles from the rich history of the winery. For the main course Itay frees the liquid from a 2005 Merlot. When I ask Itay about the many awards that his winery won, he humbly suggest that that’s not what counts, but by the evening of that very same day the members of the jury of Terra Vino 2012 gave BenHaim winery 6 awards, among them the very prestigious award for the best Boutique Winery in Israel. And so, with the wine filling our body and soul, Itay sits before the piano and start playing a merry/light headed tune. “I’ve also got a Saxophone hiding somewhere” he says, but with all that drinking he couldn’t find it. By the end of the visit my head is light. But no worries – after all I’m not so far away from home…

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