In the vineyards of Bet El
In the vineyards of Bet ElDavid Perlmutter

As our tour bus ascended the hill leading to the Beit El winery, grape vines stretched as far as the eye could see on the rolling hills and cliffs overlooking the historic town of Beit El, where Jacob woke up from his most famous dream saying, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the Beit Elohim, and this is the Gate to Heaven”.

Here Hillel Manne has established the Beit El Boutique Winery. The landscape around the winery is a showcase for the ancient wine culture of Israel. As we look on the hills we see what the prophet Isaiah saw when he sung his Song of My Beloved to His Vineyard (Isaiah 5). Carved into bedrock are thousands of years old wine presses; ruined towers still watch over the vines and the vineyards are surrounded by remnants of ancient stone walls.

Outside the winery Hillel showed us the different vines and described the yearly cycle of the grape vines. Next at the winery we learned about modern grape-growing and wine production, after which it was time for the "main event" - tasting the products of this charming boutique winery steeped in history and tradition. A wine-tasting in Beit El is a unique experience that takes you back to the biblical times when Jacob dreamed his famous dream.

But it's not just about the history - Bet El's modern-day wines are truly delicious.

We were fortunate to taste first the rare Cliff View Carignan, which contains just a suggestion of blackberry, blueberry, vanilla, white pepper and nutmeg flavors. The dark fruit flavors lingered through the long graceful finish. 

Next we tasted the handpicked Cabernet Sauvignon with classic black currant, black cherry and plum flavors. In addition, just the slightest hints of black pepper, licorice and chocolate are evident. Fine persistent tannins and a crisp acidity balance the concentration and texture of this fine Sauvignon.

The warmth and hospitality of our hosts Nina and Hillel Manne competed with the quality of Beit El Wines for the highlight of our visit. No one leaves Beit El winery without feeling that they’ve acquired new friends in our hosts and winemaker.

I highly recommend that you stop by to taste the delicious wines, take in the breathtaking views and discover the incredible ancient Jewish history of Bet El.