I had the pleasure recently of dining with Winemaker Victor Schoefeld, of Golan Heights Winery! This Israeli winery: Yarden Inc, is a producer of some fine sparkling and still wines. Victor is American born and the Chief Winemaker of Golan Heights. He has a passion for gastronomy and spent most of his adult life tending to vineyards and cooking. His love for wine led him to several wineries to practice and perfect his craft. He worked a lot in California, after attending UC Davis, and then later traveled to France.

“High quality is not enough… wine is most interesting when it is a reflection of a certain place.” – Victor Schoefeld. 

I and a number of wine writers and sommeliers joined Victor at Gramercy Tavern for a lovely wine pairing lunch. Here we enjoyed a wonderful selection of wines paired with the iconic restaurant’s cuisine. We started off with the 2012 Yarden Brut Rosé which is a great aperitif and perfect on a hot summer day. This would easily pair with seafood, cheeses, and charcuterie. The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 Pinot Gris, and 2016 Katzrin Chardonnay were the first three wines in our wine lineup. Paired with these wines was Marinated Fluke with cucumber, basil, and lime. To compare pairings, we also enjoyed Striped Bass with pole beans, saffron, and lobster broth. My favorite wines from the lineup were the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chardonnay, due to their pairing abilities, structure, and balanced acidity.

After our fish courses, we had the opportunity to taste some reds which included the 2014 Yarden 2T, 2014 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Yarden Rom, and the 2014 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon Bar’on Vineyard. The reds from Yarden are really exceptional and I think for Israel you really taste the terroir, quality, and craftsmanship in these wines. Paired with the reds was a nice meat course of Lamb Loin and Merguez with ricotta, grilled sourdough, and broccoli rabe. These wines easily pair well with red meats and hearty fish. If you’re a vegetable lover, and or vegetarian you can also pair these with pasta and roasted vegetable dishes.

For those of you who have not tried wines from Israel, you’re missing out. These wines should not be featured and instead should be embraced this fall and holiday season! These wines range from $20.00-119.00 and make for great gifts, especially during the Jewish holidays coming up this fall and winter! Whether you’re Kosher or not, these wines can and should be enjoyed all year round.