Erez and Vered Ben Sa’adon, owners of the Tura Winery, which has won many awards for its fine wines, invites the public to its visitors' center in Rechalim in Samaria on Chol Hamoed to observe the process of producing its wine.
Vered recently welcomed Arutz Sheva to its visitors' center, where the aroma of wine is already discernible at the entrance.
The history of wine in Samaria dates back for years. "The Samaria region is known for its wine industry from 2000 years ago when Jews produced wine here and took it to the Temple in Jerusalem," Vered said.
"The Jews were exiled, and then Jeremiah the prophet stood here and prophesied a comforting message, 'A day will come when you'll merit to return here to plant vineyards and produce wine.' We merited to return here to the mountains of Samaria to grow vineyards and produce one of the best wines in Israel. It's a great privilege to know that this land has been waiting for us and to be a part of it. Jews have waited for this wine for 2,000 years - it's very moving.
We also tour the vineyards on Mount Gerizim, and on the way there, Erez tells us about the special connection to the area. "The first vineyards were planted in 1997. We love this mountain. We invested in it and we have 300 dunams of vineyards. I'm positive that Yaakov and his sons actually walked in this area. Grapes grew here and were brought to the Temple. One of the huge ancient winepresses from which they would take wine to the Temple is located in Barkan, not far from here."
Vered explains the rules for tasting and drinking wine in the most optimal way. "A glass of wine should have a long stem which you hold instead of the cup itself to avoid warming up the wine. Don't fill the glass more than half to allow you to "cradle" the wine in the glass and enjoy it with all your senses. Bring your nose to the glass and smell the wine. Sip a little wine and gargle a bit - we have many taste buds all over our mouth - and then swallow it. It's best to open a bottle of wine around an hour before you drink it to allow it to breathe properly."
According to Vered, wine is an acquired taste. She says that until six years ago she personally didn't understand wine, but her senses have heightened over the years.
Erez explains that the location of the vineyards in the mountains is important. "It's very important that it's cold in the winter but it's cold in many places in Israel. What's unique here is all the humidity that everyone in the center of the country complains about. The humidity turns into clouds at night which makes the summer nights here cool. The area is covered with clouds until the late morning hours. If the quality of the clouds is high then it's possible to make high-quality wine. Today the vineyards here are considered the best in Israel."
In addition to the story of the vineyard, visitors at the visitors' center can also hear the moving story of Vered, who was born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother in the Netherlands and underwent a long process with them until they reached Israel and Judaism.
Despite the excellence of the wine, the vineyards' location causes anti-Israel and anti-Zionist bodies to boycott their products. "We're harmed by BDS, but we choose to look at BDS from a different viewpoint," Vered says. "To us, BDS stands for Buy Davka (specifically) in Samaria. And we see this - for each person who tells us no, there are another three who come davka [because we're located in Samaria] to visit. People buy davka, because the wine is high-quality and also because they want to strengthen Samaria."
Erez and Vered invite the public to visit Tura Winery to see the process of wine production on Chol Hamoed. The visit will be free on Pesach. Children will have the chance to see a film at the winery about the wine-making process.
Vered shows us the barrels in which the wine is fermented and tells about the patience required to produce quality wine: "The wine is aged in barrels for two years and another year in bottles. Additionally, the corks are made from the bark of oak which can only be peeled after ten years."
Erez is looking forward to when the vineyards will bloom, and this year, after an especially rainy winter, he is expecting especially high-quality grapes.