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Focus on Yekev Mony: New Kosher Wines to US Market

This past winter, I had the unique opportunity to visit some of the lesser known wineries in the Judean Hills region of Israel. The Judean Hills (a mountain range that forms a natural division between the Sharon Coastal Plains to the west and the Jordan Rift Valley to the east) are one of the easiest Israeli wine producing regions to tackle as there are over twenty-eight wineries condensed into a fairly compact space. As it has also been acknowledged as one of the best quality wine producing regions in Israel by wine critics and wine lovers alike, you will be reap fabulous wine rewards for your efforts.

During my visit to the Judean Hills, it was my objective to drop by as many of the less famous wineries in the area as possible and sample as much of their wares as health would permit. I already knew that wineries like Yatir, Domaine du Castel and Ella Valley produce some of the most praiseworthy wines to come out of Israel, but I also knew that their wines are readily available at virtually every retailer in the United States selling kosher wine. I, instead, searched out small, boutique wineries whose wares are only beginning to trickle into the American market one crate at a time. I made it a point to stop by places like Agur, Tzora, Hamasrek, and Mony.

I was impressed by many of the wines that I sampled during my few days of wine gluttony, but I have to say that one of the most interesting and pleasurable places to visit along the Judean Hills wine route is the Mony Winery.

What makes the Mony Winery such a great winery to visit? First off, the grounds of the winery are beautiful, with rolling hills planted with both grape vines and olive trees and a picturesque stone monastery standing proudly beside the winery tasting room. The winery itself is situated on property leased from the church as of 2000, and the wine production is undertaken in underground tunnels dug 120 years ago by clergy from the church. One tunnel stores the wooden casks in which the wine is aged. A second tunnel houses an enormous table around which festive events for up to 50 people can be held. Visitors are free to explore most of these underground chambers - save the kosher wine vault- unaccompanied by winery employees.

Second of all, the Mony Winery Tasting room offers a large array of treats to the casual visitor. The winery produces a number of both non-kosher and kosher wines (as of 2005 all Mony Wines have been certified kosher), olive oils, goat cheeses, pastries and zata’ar for purchase and for sampling. As I take my olive oils almost as seriously as I take my wines, the olive oil tasting was a particular treat.

Thirdly, the tasting did not just consist of a few choice selections from the winery, but almost all the wines in the Mony portfolio were represented. This is no small matter given Israeli winemakers’ proclivity to experiment with dozens of grape varietals. Although not all these wines are available yet in the United States, Mony is making wines out of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Semillon, Chardonnay, Carignan, Emerald Riesling, Petit Sirah, Muscat Alexander, Muscat Hamburg, Zinfandel and French Colombard. And I heartily partook of all the wines available.

Lastly, I mentioned in an article I wrote about two years ago that it is challenging to visit many of Israel’s wineries. Only the biggest have formal tasting rooms and many are only open to the public infrequently or by appointment only. Mony Winery, on the other hand, operates like a winery more than triple its size, and has a tasting room that is open daily. The fact that it is only about twenty minutes outside of Jerusalem makes it an ideal choice for a day trip during your next visit to Israel.

The good news for those of you who are unable to visit this winery is that as of this year their wines are being imported to the United States. I must admit that I found Yekev Mony’s kosher line not as impressive as the non-kosher line. In particular, Yekev Mony’s non-kosher reserve wines were memorable; bursting with sour fruit, bright acidity, and woodsy notes so characteristic of wines hailing from the Judean Hills, they linger on the palate and showcase the heights in quality that wines from this region can reach. On the bright side for kosher observing Jews, now that all the wines produced at Mony Winery are under Rabbinic supervision, and - as evidenced by their exporting to the United States - that they are striving to build an international following for their products, all their wines have significantly improved. Keep your eyes and ears open for news of this winery; I expect that we will see even better things coming out of this winery over the next few years.

Wines that are available in NY State only. Can be shipped to some states.

Sunny Hills Year Per Bottle Per Case 15% Discount
Cabernet2006$19.99$239.88$203.90
Merlot2006$19.99$239.88$203.90
Muscat2007$19.99$239.88$203.90
SemillonChardonnay2007$19.99$239.88$203.90
Reserve
Cabernet2005$34.99$419.88$356.90
Merlot2005$34.99$419.88$356.90
Shiraz2005$34.99$419.88$356.90
Chardonnay2005$29.99$359.88$305.90
Taltalim2005 $39.99$479.88$407.90

To order these wines and receive the KWS 15% discount on case orders email info@KosherWineSociety.com . Please put Mony Wines in the subject line with your name, address, and phone # and the wine store will contact you.