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Vineyards in the Holy Land
The day before I headed back to Tel Aviv, I followed curving roads with vineyards on either side and toured several boutique wineries. At the small but beautiful Odem Mountain Winery, they also sold jars of local jam and honey produced nearby. The place would fit right in — if you were in the Napa Valley of California.
While a decade ago people laughed if you mentioned Israeli wine, today’s technology has vastly improved the quality. At the nearby Golan Heights Winery, the wines’ awards from international competitions can attest to this statement — and a tasting there can confirm it. An expansive visitor center, which is landscaped with scented lavender, rosemary and thyme, showcases all its labels.
On my last night, I stayed at the Hotel Mizpe Hayamim. Bordering Lebanon, the place is part hotel, part spa, and part organic farm. The region around it has had its share of controversy and conflict. But within the farm grounds, it both looks and feels like an oasis. Gardens, lemon trees, chickens and a barn where goats are raised, surround the hotel. Its shops sell kosher jams, breads, cheeses and wine made on the premises; its Muscat Restaurant serves up meals prepared with the farm’s seasonal bounty.
After dinner there, I sat out on my room’s balcony overlooking the valley below. I listened to the quiet, gazed at the stars strung out in the sky and sipped a glass of wine which seemed as complex as the country that produced it.
Donna Tabbert Long writes about food and travel for the Star Tribune and other publications.