May 26, 2024
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May 26, 2024
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Once Upon a Wine: A Winter Tale of Winemakers

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a wintery season brought a chill to the people. To ease the dark evenings, imaginative winemakers of the land shared delicious winter recipes with great wines, adding a touch of magic to the dish. A glass of wine with a delicious supper by a toasty fireplace became an enchanting evening. And we still do that!

The head winemaker of the Golan Heights Winery, Victor Schoenfeld, gathers his family and friends to prepare a secret “cholent” stew recipe. He cooks this dish for the coldest days, inhaling the mystical scent it brings forth. While cooking, his children question Schoenfeld on the origins of the cholent.

An old-fashioned recipe, for centuries, cholent has been a cozy and warm dish to serve during harsh winter days. To personalize his cholent, Schoenfeld fuses with it a classic French Cassoulet (see Schoenfeld’s recipe below). Schoenfeld specifically chose this dish as it pairs well with one of his favorite wines, the Yarden Pinot Noir. He highly recommends this wine for its aromatic cherry, red currant, and ripe pomegranate fruit characteristics, layered with attractive floral and spice notes. Victor says, “If you like your wines more complex and full-bodied, with notes of smoke, earth, and exotic spices, I would attempt the Yarden Syrah.”

Victor’s style of wine selecting parallels his daring lifestyle, as he also suggests an interesting challenge for real white-wine lovers and the people who dare to think “outside the box” by trying his cholent with the rich Yarden Chardonnay, which contrasts with the heavy dish.

In close proximity, Micha Vaadia serves as chief winemaker at Galil Mountain Winery. Learning at vineyards in California, New Zealand, and Argentina, Vaadia is now one of the top winemakers in Israel.

For a pleasant winter weekend, Vaadia puts together his classic lamb roast with rosemary, coriander seeds, and za’atar. Vaadia accompanies his lamb with Galil Meron, a deep, complex blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. The wine pleasantly combines characteristics of wild berry and blueberry, with hints of nutmeg and chocolate, it is a rich and bold wine.

Winemaker Dr. Shivi Drori, father of six, discovered the ancient grapes of Israel and is attempting to produce a wine identical to the wine consumed during ancient times. Between this quest and his winemaking vineyard practices, Drori relishes a quiet supper with his big, happy family. His classic baked chicken with silan (date honey), cranberry, and mint is a delightful source of great protein for the winter.

He enjoys a red wine, Gvaot Herodion, a striking blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. It offers a long-lasting notes of elegant black and red fruit aromas, with undertones of spices and scents. A true artist in the wine industry, Drori chooses only the finest wines with his meals, adding “We want wine that’s good because of its quality and its story.”

Although the winter brings harsh cold weather, an evening of cooking delicious meals with a glass of wine available to the chef, as well as the stew, will bring forth a warmth incomparable to anything else this season.

Victor’s Cholent:


• 4.4 lbs. osso buco cut into 0.7-inch thick slices (by the butcher)

• 2 smoked one half goose breasts/duck (about 600 g), cut crosswise into 0.4-inch slices

• 2.2 lbs. sausage (I use beef/lamb/pistachio sausage, locally produced), cut into 4-inch lengths

• 1.1 lbs. large dry white beans, soaked for about 12 hours in water

• 1 whole head of garlic, separated into whole peeled cloves

• 3.3 lbs. new red potatoes, washed

• Eggs, raw, in their shells…wash them well first (as many as you can fit in, try one per person)

• 4 onions, chopped

• 2 shallots, thinly sliced

• 1 cup pickled pearl onions, whole, drained

• 3.5 ounces pearl barley

• ¼ cup decent red wine for deglazing

• Beef stock

• Salt to taste

• Pepper to taste

• Smoked Paprika to taste


1. Brown the slices of goose in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet (you can do this directly in the Dutch oven, but I find it easier this way). You need no oil, as the goose fat quickly renders itself. Set aside.

2. Brown the osso buco in the goose fat. Set aside.

3. Brown the sausage in the same pan, set aside.

4. Add the onions and shallots and sauté in the remaining fat, until lightly browned. Add a bit of olive oil if necessary. Set aside.

5. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, then transfer liquid to Dutch oven.

6. Make a thin layer at the bottom of the Dutch oven with a third of the beans and onion and barley, with a sprinkling of the spices.

7. Add a layer of half of the osso buco, sausage, eggs, and potatoes.

8. Add another layer of the beans, etc.

9. Add another layer of the meat, etc.

10. Finish with the remaining beans, etc.

Depending on the size of the osso buco slices, eggs, and potatoes, it could be a challenge to fit everything in. Have an additional casserole on hand for the overflow, if any.

11. Fill with liquid until there’s about 1 in. of liquid covering the ingredients. If you have enough beef stock, use that. If the beef stock is concentrated, use to taste and then use water to come to desired level. If you do not have stock, use water.

12. Bring to a boil and remove scum.

13. Cover with lid. If the lid does not fit tightly, there is a danger of the cholent drying out and burning overnight. You can add a doubled strip of aluminum foil between the Dutch oven and lid to help seal.

14. Put overnight on 230° Fahrenheit.

15. Serve the guests, and hear “oohs” and “ahhs.”

Micha’s Lamb Roast


• 1 whole leg of lamb

• 8 cloves of garlic

• Juice of one big lemon

• Zest of one lemon

• 5 tbls. Galilee olive oil

• 3 tbls. mustard

• 1 tbls. whole-grain mustard

• 2 tbls. chopped Galilee fresh sage

• 2 tbls. chopped Galilee fresh za’atar (or fresh oregano)

• 2 tbls. chopped fresh rosemary

• 2 tbls. chopped fresh parsley

• 1 tbls. crushed dried paprika

• 1 tsp. honey

• 1 tsp. crushed coriander seeds

•  Atlantic sea salt and fresh ground pepper


Cut each garlic clove to four long pieces; make small pockets all around the meat with a sharp small knife and insert the garlic deep into the meat.

Mix the rest of the ingredients except the zest to a paste and massage the paste around the meat until it covers all the meat.

Sprinkle salt and pepper and leave to rest at least four hours.

Roast in a pre-heated oven at 428°F for 25 minutes, take down the heat to 300°F and roast for an hour, take the leg out of the oven, sprinkle the lemon zest.

Let the leg rest for 15 minutes at room temperature and then slice very thin slices.

Shivi’s Baked Chicken


Medium whole clean chicken

Rub for chicken:

• Silan (date honey)

• 20 mint leaves

• ¼ cup olive oil

• 1 tbls. soy sauce

• Salt


• 1 cup cooked rice

• ¼ cup dried cranberries

• 1 tbls. soy sauce

• 1 tbls. of date honey

• 20 mint leaves

• 2 tbls. almond slices

• ¼ cup hazelnuts (or pecans)


Pre-heat oven to 390 degrees.

Mix the ingredients for the stuffing and place in the chicken’s cavity.

Mix ingredients for the rub in a bowl and rub the washed and well-flicked chicken with the mixture and place it a deep baking dish.

Cover and roast the chicken for about an hour.

When the chicken is nicely browned and juices run clear, place the chicken on a platter and keep it warm, while deglazing the baking dish with Gvaot Herodion.

Transfer to sauce pan and reduce pan juices to desired consistency.

Cover chicken with gravy and serve.

By Talia Zimmerman

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