During my last visit to Israel in October 2017, on the final day of the trip, my aunt asked me if there was anything else I was hoping to do that I hadn't had a chance to experience yet. With zero hesitation I said, "I've always wanted to do the graffiti tour in Tel Aviv and I'd really like to travel to one of the wineries."
Unbeknownst to me, she filed away those two pieces of information and when I arrived two weeks ago, she said, "Guess what? On Monday we're doing the winery!"
That day, we woke up in Jerusalem and piled into the car for the two-hour drive north to Moshav Kerem Maharal, the home of the Amphorae Winery.
You park your car in front of a neighboring business, which makes all-natural olive oil.
Then, you walk down a beautiful path toward the visitor center. The building looks like something out of a movie set in a European hillside.
I couldn't help but notice the vine design on the front gate - a very cute touch.
The doors to the visitor center are stunning.
The wood is wine colored (appropriate!) and has the logo prominently displayed in metal.
The oversized door knocker and the old fashioned bell make it feel like a historic place, even though it was just built in the last 20 years.
You enter into the wine shop, which is adjacent to the tasting room. The space gets incredible natural light.
My aunt had made a reservation for a tasting and a tour. She was so sweet and made sure there would be someone there who spoke English, so I could get the most out of the experience.
We did the tasting first, beginning with a glass of the Med Red. This wine was very tasty and very easy to drink.
We took our glasses over to a table in the tasting room. My aunt had pre-ordered us a cheese plate (which was a surprise to me) and it was magnificent!
There were five kinds of cheese, three kinds of fruit, two spreads, olives, olive oil and walnuts! Not to mention a basket of warm bread that came on the side.
As we continued to nibble, we tasted three more reds: the Rhyton, the Makura and the Makura Cabernet Sauvignon. I still liked the Med Red best!
Before beginning our tour, a member of the staff offered each of us a glass of white wine, poured straight from the fermentation tank. The wine hadn't even been barreled or aged yet. It felt very cool to taste it at such an early stage in the process.
Here I am with my aunt, enjoying the white!
On the tour, we learned that Amphorae comes from the word amphora, which is the vessel pictured in the logo. Throughout history it has been used to store to oil and wine.
Amphorae does all of their winemaking and aging on site. We were able to walk through the fermentation room, the barrel room and a very cool area they call "the archive" which is where they store special wines they've made, as well as bottles they've been gifted by other winemakers.
After the tour, we returned to our seats in the tasting room and were each given a small glass of port. They warned us that it was 18% alcohol. I was glad I wasn't the one driving that day!
The port was wonderfully sweet and all I could think was how great it would taste over vanilla ice cream.
We were having such a fantastic time hanging out at our table, both because of the cheese (so much!) and the amazing music they were playing - Beyoncé, John Legend, Sia.
Eventually we did put on our coats and head down the path again, but not before I purchased a bottle of Med Red. I liked it so much I was willing to bubble wrap it and put it in my suitcase for the flight back to the States.
A winery tour was something I'd been wanting to do in Israel for a very long time and Amphorae superseded my expectations. I can't recommend them enough.