As 2014 came to a close, Galil Mountain Winery’s Head Winemaker, Micha Vaadia, shares some of the year’s highlights. Vaadia has been at the winery since 2006. He previously worked at wineries in California, New Zealand, and Argentina prior to dedicating his life to bringing the Israeli Galil Mountain Winery to the top. A vibrant and dedicated winemaker, Vaadia is also father to a 2-year-old daughter and lives in Northern Israel. Here’s our Q&A:
Q: In Israel, 2014 brought many new experiences and challenges, both positive and difficult. What was most memorable from 2014?
A: For me, 2014 was really a wonderful year. In Israel, we experienced great weather that was not extreme. We didn’t have any unbearable conditions. Last December started out very cold and stormy, which was followed by a relatively dry winter and a moderate summer. For winemaking, weather plays a huge role and the temperate seasons really helped the quality of the wine. Quality really stands out. Each year has its own fingerprint when it comes to winemaking, based on various external factors. The uniqueness of each harvest is bold, flavored by deep tones within the grape, the climate’s varied cycles, and refined winemaking. We are grateful that in 2014 the Galil Mountain Winery bore lots of good, developed wines.
Q: What are the best wines of 2014?
A: There isn’t one way to answer this question, as wines are based very much on individual tastes and preferences. In addition, we will only begin to taste wines from the 2014 harvest in the coming months. However, this season’s Syrah vines really stand out. Several wines are based on it, most notably the Meron wine. In addition, our Galil Ela, Galil Alon, and Galil Mountain Syrah wines all featured Syrah varieties.
Q: In recent years, Israeli wines have placed extremely well in international wine competitions. Where there any notable awards in 2014?
A: There were actually several. The Galil Yiron 2010 won the Mundus Vini 2014 Grand Gold and was named the Best Red Wine of Israel in Germany. The Galil Meron 2010 won the Selections Mondiales Des Vins 2014 Gold award in Canada, the Les Citadelles du Vin 2014 Gold Prize, and the Special Prize as the Best Israeli Wine in France, and the Gold Mundus Vini 2014 in Germany. In addition, the Galil Alon 2011 snagged the Gold Award at the Les Citadelles du Vin 2014 in France. This year, our wines received unprecedented recognition at lavish international wine shows and we are so proud.
Q: It’s great to hear about the rising acclaim. What do you think were the biggest successes for the Galil Mountain Winery in 2014? What brought about these accomplishments?
A: After years of working our vineyards, mastering the skills of winemaking and cultivating the perfect varietals, we now are able to produce greatly improved wines at all the vineyards. The experience has produced great quality wines around all the Galil Mountain vineyards. It has been a process and we are seeing the rewards. In previous years, certain vineyards saw more success and produced better wines. Finally, this year, all the vineyards showed significant improvements and yielded excellent quality.
Q:What was most memorable from this past year?
A: Each year, winemakers invest, prepare, and work tremendously to ensure that each step of the winemaking process is properly cared for. Harvest time is always a period when we reveal the true nature of the season. We must carefully watch the grapes to ensure that they are harvested at their peak, which is a very brief period. Within a short time, we are committed to properly processing and draining the grapes. Though it is sometimes stressful, this is the stage when we determine the quality of the whole season and work around the clock to maximize our yield and results. During the harvest season, winemakers really connect with the vineyards. This bond allows us to make meaningful decisions that will ultimately affect the quality of the wine. This season we had a good team that worked harmoniously to achieve excellent quality.
Q: How did Operation Protective Edge affect the winery?
As our winery is an integral part of Israeli society, we felt the difficulties of this trying time. Many of our friends and family were called up to the IDF’s reserves duty. I knew several families affected personally by the near-constant rockets in the south, and countless others affected by the war overall. It was a stressful time for the whole nation. Operation Protective Edge ended just at the beginning of our harvest. We were able to continue our work pretty much routinely, though we were emotionally impacted.
You can taste some of the award-winning wines, available for sale across North America and Europe. Planning a trip to Israel? Visit Vaadia at the Galil Mountain Winery, situated in the stunning Upper Galilee. Taste some excellent wines and enjoy the scenery! For more information, visit http://www.galilmountain.co.il/English/About.
By Daniela Berkowitz