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Tura and Har Bracha Wineries – two great examples of Shomron Wine Passion

Sunset outside of Tura WineryThe title may seem extreme but there is a clear and present passion and almost zeal to the wine makers and vineyard managers of the Shomron. In no way is that a slight to other wine regions, or to denote that others are not as passionate. The real point is that when I met with 30+ wineries on my past trip to Israel, every winery spoke about their wines and their processes and technology, but none spoke as passionately about their land as the winemakers in the Shomron. I need to stress, that many speak about their vineyards, the terroir, like Tzora and others, but the passion about the land versus the correct vines to grow – the sheer desire to own and plant trees or vines – it was truly an uplifting experience.

However, before we get into all of that, this post is about day two of week three during my trip to Israel last year December (2012). This posting is an account of my visit to both the Har Bracha and Tura wineries, in that order. Since we left off, I had completed week one all by myself, and week two partly with my nephew, who yes slowed me down, but truly added so much color and life to the proceedings, that it was a fair trade 🙂 The day started off like any day in Israel, we were set to see as many wineries as possible within a single day! The day started off with Doron and I picking up Gabriel Geller, yes the dastardly mastermind of the previous week’s Monday adventure to Ella Valley, Teperberg, Flam, and Herzberg Winery. It was a grand day trip and one that Geller was ready to try again! Talk about committed or is it that he needs to be committed, I am really not sure! Anyway, we pick him up and off we go to another wine adventure on Route 60! There were many stories that occurred to us on route 60 on this storied day, but being that they were part of the tapestry of the day, we will weave the tails into this wild and ruckus wine trail adventure.

The Shomron day started off with a visit to Shiloh, and then to Gvaot, described here. From there we were pointing our car towards Har Bracha and that is when we should have listened to the darn phone – both of our phones! The madness started with Doron’s phone which texted him with a very important message. You see he has an AT&T phone, a very nice phone actually, that did not easily support popping in a new SIM (the modus apprendre of international cell phone travelers when they visit Israel), so he went with an international plan from the US with certain countries on it. Simple enough plan, that is until you enter route 60, or more specifically, the Shomron area of route 60. AT&T was texting Doron to notify him that his data plan did not work in the new country he had just entered! Well, if that was not enough of a hint, at about that same time, my phone starts to chirp. Now, I must be specific here, we were interested in getting to Har Bracha which is north of Shiloh and we actually have to pass Tura to get there, but that was because Tura was not available at that time, so Har Bracha was where we were pointed towards.

Har Bracha Vineyards 5To quickly remind you, Yossie’s wine map is an awesome resource for finding kosher wineries in Israel, and for getting a sense of what and where the kosher wineries are in Israel. The map gave us a great layout of our day, and it also gave us a closer understanding of what was driving waze so crazy! Waze is the only real navigation tool in Israel and one that I explained saved my life at least two times in the north. Well, my girlfriend (waze’s voice is a female’s voice and it tells me where to go at all times – so all my friends think it fits) started to notify me that I needed to get ready for a left turn coming up. Now, driving in Israel is an already tense and terrifying enough of a job, looking at a navigation device is too much. So, Doron and Gabe (back seat driver) were thrust into the navigator role. Doron had the girlfriend and Gabe knows most of the roads by heart, and he also had his own phone-based girlfriend as well. All the phones were telling me to turn left, while Gabe was coaxing me forward – with soothing words of, do not worry we need to keep driving – no warning! Read the rest of this entry

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Har Bracha Cabernet Sauvignon, Highlander

This past weekend I wanted some warm comfort food for the cold weather that was setting into the Bay Area, so I chose to make a sausage stew – but not one I have made before. This time we made a leek, mushroom, sausage, potato, and Brussels sprout stew. Yeah, I know I need a shorter name – but for now I will go with leek, mushroom, sausage stew, with fun additives.

Leek, mushroom, sausage stew Recipe:

  1. 2 ounces of oil
  2. Two onions diced
  3. Two leeks sliced thick
  4. 32 ounces of Portobello mushrooms sliced thick
  5. 8 red potatoes cubed large
  6. 6 smashed garlic cloves
  7. 8 basil leaves diced well
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
  9. Two to three pounds of sausage sliced into half-inch cubes
  10. Two pounds of Brussels sprouts

In a large Dutch oven heat the oil till it starts to shimmer and then add in the diced onions and leeks and saute them until browned. Lower to a simmer and add in the Portobello mushrooms and sweat them till they release their liquid. Then throw in the potatoes and coat them with the onions, leeks, and mushrooms and let braise until the potatoes are halfway softened. At this point the pot should be a quarter filled with vegetable liquid. Throw in all the spices and herb along with salt and pepper. Then throw in the sausage and let it them cook for half an hour. Finally, throw the Brussels sprouts into the pot and let them cook for 15 or so minutes, or until they soften – but not to the point where they become too soft – it is a fine line.

I totally understand that some find Brussels sprouts to be as evil as I find Cilantro (though to me Cilantro is the devil’s spawn). So, if you do not like Brussels sprouts – replace them with Okra or Cubed Squash. For a starch we used quinoa and paired it with a fresh green salad. Read the rest of this entry

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