Adam S. Montefiore


The Teperberg Winery has recently launched a new look for their wines, across the board. This historic winery therefore completes a process which began a long, long time ago.

There are four revolutions that characterize the history of Israeli wine. First there was the French Revolution, when the wine industry was founded in the 1880’s by Rothschild, using French expertise. In the 1980’s the New World Revolution began, led by Californian winemakers, improving the quality of Israeli wines. The 1990’s was the beginning of the Boutique Winery Revolution, which provided color and variety.

Teperberg is part of the latest revolution, the Traditional Winery Revolution. Since the beginning of the 2000’s, there are has been a noteworthy renaissance of the large wineries.

The first of the traditional wineries to transform itself was Carmel Winery. Today their finest wines are amongst the best in Israel. Another was Binyamina Winery. The current talented winemaking team of Yiftach Peretz and Yael Sandler are making pretty good wines today.

Do you remember Askalon Wines They became known as Segal Wines and also started making some quality wines, particularly in the hands of winemaker Avi Feldstein. Even traditional wineries such as Arza and Zion started to make changes. And then there is Teperberg.

The family saga began in 1827, when Avraham Teperberg fled Odessa to avoid the army and ended up in Austria. There he would have come into contact with wine for the first time and picked up his Germanic sounding name. In 1850 he made Aliya to Israel and in 1852 he began trading in wine and spirits. Amongst his customers were Christian Arabs and Templars. His legacy was that he founded a wine dynasty that would last until today.

His son, Zeev Zaide Teperberg, decided it was not enough to distribute wine, but that they should make their own. He established a winery in 1870, which was situated between Yehudim Street and Habad Street in the Old City of Jerusalem, not far from the Zion Gate.

Sir Moses Montefiore was the most distinguished overseas visitor to Jerusalem at this time. He drank a bottle of wine every day and he would buy small casks of wine as a souvenir. Furthermore every community or individual he visited would welcome him with a bottle of their finest wine. It amuses me to think that on one of his visits to Jerusalem, he may have come across either a Teperberg or his wine. Maybe fanciful on my part, but it would certainly have been quite feasible.

The third generation was Mordechai Shimon Teperberg. By now the business included a winery, a distribution business and retail shops in Jaffa and Jerusalem. In 1921 there was a costly court case between the Teperberg and Carmel wineries over a disputed logo, the one of the two spies carrying the bunch of grapes, which they both claimed as their own. In 1925 the winery was forced to leave the Old City due to Arab riots, and the request by the British Mandate that industry should leave the area. They moved the winery to Romema in Western Jerusalem, later to be the site of the Egged bus station.

Also in 1925, the Teperberg and Segal families went into partnership to build a distillery at Sarona, within the Templar community. The Segals provided the distilling expertise, and the Teperbergs, the marketing, distribution and retail knowhow.

This business failed because raw materials became more expensive and at the same time, the British permitted the import of spirits and liqueurs. Mordechai Shimon wanted to leave the drinks business, but he was persuaded to continue by his Rabbi. In the end they lost a lot of money and the winery went bankrupt in 1929.

The revival of the business was led by the very young Menachem Teperberg, the fourth generation, along with his brother Yitzchak. He reestablished the family winery in 1951 in Mahane Yehuda and named it ‘Efrat’, after the ancient route the grapes travelled from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. Menachem decided to focus on the winery and passed the retail part of the business on to another brother. In 1964, they moved to Motza, the village at the entrance to Jerusalem.

Efrat was a small winery, no larger than a medium sized boutique winery today. Enter Moti Teperberg, the fifth generation. He joined the business in 1976 and became CEO in 1984. Slightly hunched like a prize fighter, almost bobbing and weaving as he waits for the next opportunity to catch his interest, he has a ready smile and hyper active air about him. He came in to a winery mainly selling Kiddush wine, grape juice and alcohol to the Jerusalem market. The first thing he did was grow the business, until the Motza winery was bursting at the seams. In ten years from the late eighties, the winery’s production grew tenfold.

He was always a business man before a wine guy, but he had the vision to realize that trends were changing. A winery could no longer live off Kiddush wine and grape juice. He understood that to improve the final product he would have to seek better vineyards or gain more control of vineyard management and employ an internationally trained winemaker. The winery would need to move to a new, larger site, and invest in more advanced equipment and technology. And, step by step, that is what he did.

Firstly he employed a new winemaker. Shiki Rauchberger became the chief winemaker in 2002. He has a reputation as one of the leading winemakers in the country. Previously he worked at Carmel’s Rishon Le Zion Cellars. He studied at UC Davis and worked with the legendary wine consultant Peter Stern. The associate winemaker, Olivier Fratty, who studied in Bordeaux, joined him in 2006. They are obviously a very successful partnership. The union between the two schools, new and old world, clearly works to the good of the end product.

In 2006, the winery moved to a new site in the Judean Foothills, near Dir Rafat, close to vineyards as Moti always wished. They changed the name of the winery from Efrat to Teperberg, to emphasize it was still a family winery.

Now, they have come up with a complete new branding. The new logo is a very traditional, large Tet (the Hebrew letter) and the slogan is ‘Family winery since 1870.’ The new labels cleverly emphasize family, history and tradition with a touch of modernity.

Today Moti Teperberg is the longest serving CEO of a winery. Teperberg has grown to be the fourth largest winery in Israel and the largest family winery. In 2014 the winery harvested over 7,000 tons of grapes, a far cry from the 250 tons harvested in 1989.

If Zeev Zaide visited today, everything would be unfamiliar. The grape varieties (international varieties instead of local Arab grown varieties), the vineyards (all over, instead of just from Bethlehem & Hebron), the style of wines (dry instead of sweet), the size of the operation, the number of stainless steel tanks…. However he would recognize the name over the door (and on the label), and this would make him feel very much at home. I am certain he would be very proud of his great grandson. Y’Shar Koach Moti & Shiki!

Teperberg Vision Dry White 2014
Light fragrant easy drinking white. Fruity, dry, but with a touch of sweetness and refreshing finish. Great aperitif. NIS 35

Teperberg Vision Malbec 2014
Teperberg is the pioneer of Malbec. This is the entry level. Fruity with an aroma of forest fruits, a touch of greeness, nicely weighted with a clean finish. NIS 35

Teperberg Impression Sangiovese 2014
Light colored, red cherry, berry nose, white pepper, balanced by vanilla flavors. It has a refreshing finish. NIS 45

Teperberg Legacy Petite Sirah 2012
Legacy is the prestige label in a bombastic bottle that makes a heavy port bottle seem light! The wine is a deep colored, powerful but velvety wine, with a ripe plum aroma, a hint of violets and full mouth feel. NIS 170

Teperberg Legacy Petit Verdot 2012
A powerful, full bodied wine, though closed and needing time. It is all there and will soften and open with bottle age. Well worth coming back to it in six months. NIS 170



One of the T shirts most often seen being worn by winemakers carries the slogan: “It takes a lot of beer to make fine wine.” Even wine people need a break from wine tasting sometimes, and when they do, they drink a lot of beer!

So let’s talk beer. Babylon and Egypt were great beer making empires in times gone by. Amusingly, archaeologists recently found fragments of pottery used by Egyptians to make beer, dating back 5,000 years, at a building site in Tel Aviv of all places!

However there was always a certain snobbery between the drinks produced from the grain and the grape. Wine was the drink of kings, empires and the ruling elite. Beer was the bread for the serfs and the working man. Also grain grew where the vine could not. In Israel, there was never any problem growing vines and one of the reasons that wine was the choice of industry of the first aliyah, was that the grape vines flourished, whereas the wheat and barley planted did not survive.

The first brewery in Israel was adjacent to Rishon Le Zion Wine Cellars, It was known as Palestine Beer Breweries. It was founded in 1934 by Frenchman Gaston Dreyfus and James Rothschild. Of course Israelis did not drink beer in those days. The only people drinking beer were the British.

When the British Mandate came to an end, sales crashed and the brewery was eventually closed in 1960. However it will be remembered for two names which live on: Israel’s first beer brand, Nesher, was produced there in 1934 and Israel’s leading selling beer, Goldstar was first produced there in 1950!

The National Brewery continued to fly the beer flag, until a soft drink company called Tempo gathered the various strands under one roof in 1985. Thus was born Tempo Beer Industries in Netanya and it became and still remains Israel’s largest brewery.

Its major competitor, Israel Beer Brewing Ltd (IBBL), then known as Carlsberg Israel, was founded in Ashkelon in 1992 and for the first time Israel had the beginnings of a competitive beer industry.

In the late 1990’s Tempo and IBBL started importing beers or making them under license in Israel. Each now has a full arsenal of international brands to ensure they can provide a full range of styles.

Tempo distributes Heineken, the famous Dutch beer, Samuel Adams, the beer that began the USA craft beer revolution, Murphy’s from Ireland, Paulaners from Germany , Staropramen, a Czech beer and Newcastle Brown from England.

IBBL’s lineup is Carlsberg, and Tuborg from Denmark, Stella Artois, Leffe and Hoegarden from Belgium, Weihenstephan from Germany and the one and only Guinness, from Ireland.

In the 2000’s, about 10 years after the boutique wine revolution, a micro-brewery movement was born, and the result was a number of boutique producers making beers of individuality and variety to add color to the Israel beer scene. Dancing Camel was the first craft brewery founded in 2006 and it was swiftly followed by Alexander, Bazelet, Jem’s, Malka, Negev, Shapiro and many others. All are making genuinely good beers and should be supported.

So Israel now has a more vibrant beer market than ever before. The major brands are in the supermarkets, but visit the local wine shop and quality bar, and they will as likely or not stock beers from smaller producers. However Israel remains a tiny country in terms of production and consumption.

The greatest brewing nations are the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium and Britain. Czech breweries were the first to use hops and they invented the pilsner style of beer. The Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per head in the world.

Germany is famous for instigating the beer purity laws. They have more breweries than any country in the world. They are famous mainly for Pilsener style lagers and also for wheat beers.

Belgium has the largest range of beers of any country and some styles unique to them, like Lambic beers. They have a beer culture not dissimilar to the wine culture in France.

Britain is famous for its ales, and cellar conditioned draught bitter, (Real Ale), drawn by hand pump, and Ireland is well known for its stouts, in particular Guinness.

However none of them are the largest beer producer in the world. That honor goes to the Americans. Fortunately their craft beer, microbrewery revolution has infused their volume based beer industry with some quality and interest.

Whereas wine is made from grapes, beer is a simple product that comes from grain, usually barley. The only other ingredients are water, yeast and hops. The barley is steeped in water to leech out the fermentable starch. The resulting malty liquid is fermented with yeast, which eats up the sugars, flavored with the addition of hops and the result is an alcoholic beer.

Beers tend to be Lagers or Ales. Lagers are like white wines, in which fermentation is at cooler temperatures for a longer time. The idea is to create a drink which is super refreshing and served very cold.

Ales are like the red wines. Fermentation is at a higher temperature and for a shorter period, producing a more flavorful product. The main difference is in the yeasts. Lager yeast ferments at the bottom of the fermenting vessel, and works more slowly. Ale yeast ferments at the top and works faster.

The most influential lager is the Pilsener style, made famous by Pilsener Urkell from the Czech Republic. The shortened version known to drinkers worldwide is Pils. This has created the most popular style of beer in the world which conquered all in the second half of the 20th century. San Miguel is a Pilsen style lager.

Most of the largest global brands are lagers, but big brand often equals bland, and some the largest selling beers do not have much character. Fortunately there is more variety today, and consumers can pick and choose.

Colors of lagers can vary from the pale gold Pilsener to the rustier deeper colored Goldstar for instance. There are also amber colored lagers and even dark lagers, but the popular style is beautifully colored, with a tight head of small bubbles. It makes you thirsty just looking at it. Carlsberg, Heineken and Stella Artois are examples of pale lagers.

Ales vary in color from the Blonde, a term used in Belgium, which as its name suggests looks like a pale lager, to the dark stout, which is as black as coca cola. The difference in color is dependent on the level of roasting of the malt.

Abbey beers are made in Belgium, usually produced by Trappist Monasteries. They are strong and fruity, sometimes with a touch of sweetness. Leffe Brown is an Abbey beer.

Pale Ale is a style that originated in Britain. It is pale because of the use of paler malts. Bass is a famous pale ale first made in Burton on Trent in 1777. Fuller’s London Pride comes from London. Newcastle Brown is a darker, nuttier version of ale, produced in the north of England.

IPA stands for Indian Pale Ale. When beer was shipped to India, extra handfuls of hops were thrown in to act as a preservative on the long journey. Hence IPA’s tend to be hoppier, fruitier with a balancing bitterness.

Wheat beers or Weissbeers are ales made from the use of wheat. They are often cloudy being unfiltered with a very yeasty, aromatic aroma. These are like the aromatic wines made from Muscat or Gewurztraminer grape varieties. Examples are Hoegarden, Paulaner and Weihenstephan.

Stouts are ales which are as black as night, with a bitter sweet character and nose of malt and mocha and a creamy head from the use of nitrogen. The daddy of them all is Guinness and Murphy’s is another Irish stout. For those who have Guinness for the first time , start with the draft. It is smoother, whilst in the bottle, the bitterness loved by Guinness drinkers is more apparent.

Of course, there is so much more variety. As always, find what you like and enjoy experimenting with new styles. For more information, I recommend any books by the late Michael Jackson, (no relation), who was the Hugh Johnson of the beer world. In Hebrew the best guide is the book Beer and Beyond by Shahar Hertz (

Sometimes a shluk (taste) of beer can be the only cure for long hot Israeli summer.



Maybe the Syrah grape produces wine that does not have the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon, nor the wild perfume of Pinot Noir, but it does straddle the two and have some of the qualities of both. It is too hot here in Israel for a really good Pinot Noir, and though Cabernet Sauvignon is still king, cab demands high elevation of at least 500 meters above sea level to come in its own.

The main quality of Syrah is that it is very suitable for our climate and it grows everywhere with equal success, whether the high altitude Golan or the flatter Judean region. It is a latecomer, only making Aliyah to Israel in the last 20 years or so. This is surprising as most varieties have been here previously at some time or another. However, better late than never. It is a marriage made in heaven. I believe Syrah has the most potential of any variety to make quality wines from different terroirs across the price scale. Potentially this is the variety that could knock Cabernet Sauvignon off its perch.

The Syrah grape variety produces great wine in two places on the planet. In the Northern Rhone, it is associated with rare, pricey wines with names like Hermitage, Cornas, Côte-Rotie, Crozes Hermitage and St. Joseph.

In Australia, where the same variety is known as Shiraz, the iconic wines such as Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace are both examples of how good Australian Shiraz can be.

In the South of France, Syrah is usually only used in blends. In the Southern Rhone, it is a junior part of the Châteauneuf du Pape blend, and is usually more prominent along with Grenache and Mourvèdre in Languedoc Roussillon.

In Australia the classic blend is Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz, two varieties which combine well together. If you see GSM on the label, the initials are the clue. The blend is likely to be Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.

Throughout the world, the words Shiraz & Syrah are interchangeable. They are the same grape variety. One is a synonym for the other. Confusingly, both are used here, though Shiraz seems to be used more often. Basically, those that have planted the Australian clone tend to use the word Shiraz, and those using the French clone, use the word Syrah. However, there are no rules and the decision of which to use may simply boil down to a marketing choice of the winery.

Anyway, don’t let the name get in the way of the message. Israel is today making some very fine wines from this variety and this has been supported by international, third party recognition. Arguably, the finest examples are the single vineyard Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz from the Upper Galilee and the rare, strictly allocated Clos de Gat Sycra Syrah (NK) from the Judean Hills. Others include the Adir Shiraz, Flam Syrah, Leuria Syrah, Montefiore Syrah, Recanati Reserve Syrah Viognier, Tulip Syrah, Yarden Syrah and Yatir Syrah. All show varietal typicity and each in their different ways, prove the point.

So what is the flavor profile of Syrah Well, the wines generally tend to be very deep colored. They have blackberry, blackcurrant and plum aromas with hints of black pepper, a backdrop of herbs and spice, and sometimes a touch of leather or even a smoky character, reminiscent of smoked meat. Some are in a richer, fruitier, broader, more oaky style, others are leaner. There are similar differences between the ‘new’ and ‘old’ worlds. The Australian versions are deeper, more intense, riper and with sweeter fruit. At the other end of the Syrah spectrum, the Rhone Syrahs are more austere, elegant and delicately fragrant.

However the Syrah or Shiraz is nothing if not versatile. The younger versions can be bright and vibrant, with simple, juicy, up front raspberry and cherry-berry fruit.

At a midway point, I would put the Gamla Syrah, Recanati Shiraz, Carmel Private Collection Shiraz and Tabor Adama Shiraz at the head of the pack with the best quality per price ratio. Fruit forward, easy to drink, but full of flavor. These are great introductions to Syrah, at an affordable price!

Syrah also plays a crucial role in the new Israeli style of Mediterranean blends such as the Shvo Red (NK), Lewinsohn Red (NK) and Chateau Golan Geshem (NK). These are super, chewy, flavorful wines. This is a style of wine that is becoming a trend in Israel.

As for Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah blends, following the Australian model, the Carmel Appellation Cabernet Shiraz is excellent value, and at the other end of spectrum, the Tzora Misty Hills is majestic. A wine to age in your cellars or to open, drink slowly and savor. Arguably the finest blend of these two varieties in the country.

It is fascinating to me that Syrah has also slipped in under the radar to other Eastern Mediterranean countries, where it is contributing to some very good wines. It could even become the variety most associated with this ancient region that gave wine culture to the world. I always preach we should know the wines of our neighbors if we want to better understand the terroir and wines of Israel.

Well here are some great wines to convince you: Domaines des Tourelles Syrah du Liban from Lebanon, Domaine Vlassides Shiraz from Cyprus, Kayra Imperial Shiraz and Kavaklidere Pendore Syrah from Turkey and Gerovassiliou Syrah from Greece. If you can track them down, you will see they are a fabulous advertisement for the new marriage between Syrah and the Eastern Mediterranean countries. Israel is not alone!

It has almost become the standard in Lebanon that Syrah is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties in the ‘Grand Vin’ of many of the leading wineries. Also in the other East Med countries, like Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, there are praiseworthy attempts to blend Syrah with their own indigenous varieties.

Though Syrah is relatively new in the Eastern Mediterranean, the same can’t be said of North Africa. There, they probably have more, old vine vineyards of Syrah than anywhere in the world. This is from the time the French planted vineyards there, to surreptitiously import wines to France to secretly bolster up their own fine wines. Now almost as a result of neglect, the vineyards still exist. For the most part, the potential is unfulfilled but there are exceptions. The most international Syrah produced in North Africa is the Tandem Syrah produced in Morocco, by Thalvin in a joint venture with Alain Graillot, one of the greats of the Northern Rhone. Elsewhere the wine can be found under the inventive name Syrocco!

Many believe that the roots of Syrah variety point to the Middle East. Certainly if names are anything to go by, there is a town in Iran called Shiraz and it may not be too fanciful to guess that the word Syrah was derived from Syria. I would love to believe it was born in our region, and then transported by the Phoenicians to Europe. Unfortunately, I have no evidence to support my fantasy theory, but I do have a fertile imagination!

Incidentally, apart from the heights it reaches in France and Australia, Syrah is also planted in Chile, New Zealand, California, South Africa and Argentina, as well as Spain and Italy. This classic, noble variety is really global.

The point I want to make is that it has crept into Israel along with our neighbouring winemaking countries, almost without us noticing, and it is making some pretty good wines. Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be. However, I just wonder whether in the future, Syrah will come to be regarded as the leading quality ambassador of the Eastern Mediterranean region