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Another triumph for Israeli wine

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Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

As reported in Israel 21c:

If only Victor Schoenfeld could have learned the secrets of his ancient forebears’ winemaking enterprise in what is now the Golan Heights.

But the Roman conquest put an end to winemaking here back in the eighth century, and grapes were only reintroduced to the rich soil of the Golan Heights in 1976. So Schoenfeld, who learned his trade at the University of California-Davis, has spent 20 years building up the old-new business from scratch as head winemaker for Golan Heights Winery.

At this winery, which claims much of the credit for igniting the Israeli wine revolution of the past decade or two, Schoenfeld oversees an expensive and sophisticated operation. Soil mapping, weather stations, precise irrigation systems and other innovative methods are employed to get what he calls the “maximum personality” from the grapes into internationally praised wines.

These efforts have paid off handsomely. In the latest of a string of accolades, Golan Heights received the Gran Vinitaly Special Award as the best wine producer out of 1,000 competitors from 30 countries at the 19th International Vinitaly 2011 Wine Competition earlier this spring in Verona, Italy.

The award is given to the wine producer achieving the best overall results. Golan earned two of Vinitaly’s 16 coveted Grand Gold Medals, for its 2009 Yarden Chardonnay Odem Organic Vineyard and its 2008 Yarden Heights Wine. A panel of 105 leading winemakers and wine journalists selected the winners in blind tastings.

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