A French wine competition has awarded the Psagot Boutique Winery of Samaria gold stars for each of its eight wines that are a continuation of the Biblical tradition of wine production in Israel.
Established in 2003 by Yaakov and Naama Berg, the Psagot Boutique Winery is located in the Binyamin hills north of Jerusalem ,which served as the cradle of wine-cultivation in Biblical times. The winery’s vineyards are planted on ancient limestone terraces at a height of 3,000 feet above sea level, alongside the community of Psagot, located south of Beit El and Ofra in Samaria.
Editorial note: A 2011 Washington Post article suggested that the labels on the Berg bottles say they are from Psagot, Israel, containing wine produced from vineyards planted on ancient limestone terraces in the “northern Jerusalem hills” and aged in French oak barrels stored in an ancient cave.
When asked, Berg “shrugged off suggestions that the labels mask the wine’s origin in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.”
“This is a geographical definition, not political,” he says of the reference to the Jerusalem hills. “When it comes to wine, the geographical area is critical, like Napa Valley” in California. As for the reference to Israel, Berg said that he is subject to Israeli law and that his winery is built on state land.
In keeping with ancient history of the location, the Psagot Winery ages its wines in an ancient underground cave that was used for wine-making in the Second Temple period. The cave was discovered in the process of establishing the winery in an area where remnants of ancient vineyards still exist.
The annual French wine competition is held by 1001degustations.com, a wine site that was created by French wine producers in order to promote international interest in wines and wine production.
The Psagot wines competed against scores of wines sent from wineries across the world including leading wine-producing countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia, USA, South Africa and Argentina.
All eight of the Psagot wine entries placed in the competition, either in first, second or third place, a special feat for the Israeli boutique winery according to the founder and CEO, Yaakov Berg. “We sent all our wines to the competition and they all received awards,” Berg told Tazpit News Agency.
Psagot’s red wines, Prat and Shiraz, were awarded gold stars as well as the Judges’ Favorite Award. The grading is based on the criteria of color, aroma and taste and is decided by a jury composed of wine producers, sommeliers, oenologists, and restaurant owners. On the competition’s website, Psagot’s Prat wine was noted for its pleasant fragrance and fruity flavor, while the judges described the Shiraz as an elegant delight.
The Psagot Winery has won accolades in Panama, England and the United States among other countries. Because the competitions use blind tasting of wines to prevent bias, the Psagot wines have an equal opportunity to win like all the other wines. “Otherwise, politics would just get in the way and our wines would have no chance,” Berg told Tazpit.
The Psagot winery produced 200,000 wine bottles this year following a successful grape harvest in 2012. Most of the bottles have been exported abroad to various countries.
“This recent win is special because it shows the world what the land of Israel is made of. Two-thousand years ago, our people produced good wines in the same region, and now we are back home doing the same,” Berg said.