experiences

A Wine Taste of Israel: Golan Heights

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For my second full day in Israel we headed north to Golan Heights. I never realized how woefully ignorant of geography I was until I started researching where to go on this trip. For instance, it never occurred to me I’d have to cross a border to get to Bethlehem.

Golan Heights had been highly recommended, but I was surprised, and a little nervous, when I looked it up on a map and saw how close it was to the Syrian border.

Golan Heights Geography

But my friend thought it was safe and I trusted him, so we started off on the 2 1/2 hour drive from Tel Aviv. The scenery along the way was incredible, and quite different from the desert of the Dead Sea and the terrain around Jerusalem.

As we ascended the hills from the Sea of Galilee I was captivated by the unexpected black volcanic rock.

Golan Heights scenery

Our first stop was a tour and tasting at the Golan Heights winery.

Golan Heights Winery

We’d arrived an hour early and they recommended we take in the nearby multi-sensory movie, Golan Magic,  about the Golan Heights which alternately sprinkled us with mist and fanned us with wind.

Golan Magic Golan Heights Movie Visitor Center

The best, though less technologically advanced, was the second part which presented a large map of the Golan Heights area and gave a brief overview of the history of the area and the many battles that were fought over it.

Then we returned to the winery which is a co-op of 45 different vineyards with diverse growing conditions depending on where they’re located.

Golan Height winery locations

A short tour where we admired the massive storage tanks and warehouse.

Golan Height Winery storage tanks

Golan Height Winery warehouse

And then a brief tasting of 3-4 of their better wines.

Golan Heights Winery tasting

All were good and reasonably priced, including the dessert wine. At this point it was late afternoon and there wasn’t enough time to go further north into the region (where apparently shelling from Syria’s civil war can be heard some days). Next time I visit, I want to spend at least 2 days in the area just taking in the beautiful scenery.

But there was time to grab an early dinner in Tiberius. At The Pagoda, a kosher Chinese restaurant directly on the Sea of Galilee. It was a fun experience, but the view was far better than the food.

The Pagoda Sea Of Galilee

The Pagoda View of Sea Of Galilee

And on the way out of the region we were able to stop at the place on the river Jordon commemorating where Christ was baptized.

Baptism spot of Christ Sea of Galilee

 

One of the things I enjoyed most about this trip was actually getting to see all the places I’d grown up reading about in the Old and New Testaments. Or at least, see where people think they are. 🙂

The drive back to the airport was uneventful and I arrived 4 hours early, with plenty of time to go through the rigorous security process I’d heard so much about. More on that soon!

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

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