I was once told that the wineries of Israel need to identify themselves better with signs giving clear directions for the visitor to find them. This is sure true of a gem of a winery which is located in Moshav Safsufa in the Lower Galilee. It is on a road full of industrial looking buildings that rings the moshav. And if you visit them now, as we did, you might not agree with my use of the adjective, “gem.”
It is presently located in an aluminum warehouse-like structure which also serves as the family’s packing house and refrigeration rooms for the fruit they harvest from their orchards. It is busy, disorderly, and in a state of flux as they are also in the middle of building additional space there for the winery. Another structure is planned as a new Visitors Center to be located across the street from the entrance to the moshav. This will be welcome addition and will be easily seen and found from the main road. All who wish to acquaint themselves with the owners, the wine, and the winery should mark this place on their Israel wine map and make a point to come and visit. There will be a special event at the winery on August 3rd and from what Gidi tells me about last year’s event you’ll want to go. You can register as “members” on their web site.
The winery was started in 2000 by Yosef Sayada and later joined by his son Gidi. They grow their grapes on 180 dunam (45 acres), including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Barbera, Shiraz, Sangiovese, and Chardonnay. They presently produce 35,000 bottles/year, having grown from 25,000 two years ago. Their wines include Grand Vital, made mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), with small amounts of Shiraz (20%), and Merlot (10%). This sells for 150 shekels at the winery. The Rosso is blended from equal amounts of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, two quite dominant varieties and 20% Barbera. This is an unusual combination and we look forward to tasting it and reporting to you in a separate article soon. It sells at a cost of 89 shekels. There’s also a Grand Vin, Rough, Inon, Gewurtzraminer, and Rose.
We tasted their Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2011 vintage as it was withdrawn straight from the stainless steel vat. This is the first time I have tasted a wine at this stage of production and found it to be rough and with sharp edges, but I could imagine a finished product after a year of equilibration in oak casks. It was like seeing a rough-hewn hunk of wood straight after the tree was felled and imagining it becoming a fine piece of furniture. We also tasted their newest wine which has yet to be bottled, labeled and marketed. It is a Chardonnay, which, after 12 months in barrels, has attained a refined gentility full of flavors of fruit, but perhaps a bit too much dominated by oak.
We enjoyed today’s visit and look forward to going back and especially look forward to the August 3rd event.