By Elchonon Hellinger
Shiloh winery is internationally renowned for its superior wines. No less known is the winemaker, Amichai Lurie.
Amichai is witty and full of humor. The man is a genius but humble. If you probe Amichai, you’ll find a man with infinite wisdom, who loves wine, the land, his family, and slaughtering lambs. At his house in Maaleh Levona he has an enormous hothouse where he cultivates every vegetable and herb possible.
Amichai likes to point out the Gemara’s statements that prior to the destruction of the second Beis HaMikdash, the wines would age forever, but once the temple was destroyed the wines spoiled quickly. But Amichai’s wines age forever.
Recently I visited Amichai; he’s a jovial host and loves to cook. We tasted his garage wines, well, living room wines to be exact, which he generously opened. From 2002–2005 Amichai made wines in his house. As we tasted these wines, it was incredible to see how well made they are and how perfectly they have aged.
Shiloh isn’t made in his living room anymore, but close by. The winery has expanded drastically over the years with more labels, many awards, and increased demand. Today’s production of 250,000 bottles a year is in high demand, and the winery keeps expanding.
Currently, a new state-of-the-art winery is in the process of being built. The facility will support expanded production with a beautiful tasting room and a meat restaurant, too.
The wines of Shiloh are unique in many ways, but a few things really stand out. For one, many of the wines are mevushal, prompting noted wine critic Mark Squires from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate to comment that the wines, although mevushal, are worthy for all crowds.
Second, the wines age nearly endlessly. If you happen across a bottle of Shiloh from 2006, Amichai’s first year, you will be truly rewarded with a magnificent wine that has aged beautifully.
Reflecting the terroir in which they are crafted, Shiloh binds ancient heritage with modern winemaking. The newest state-of-the-art equipment stocks this winery just minutes from where the Mishkan Shiloh once rested.
Even though I’ve been here many times, I’m always captivated and awestruck by the endless mountain ranges and breathtaking scenery.
Venturing deep into biblical Shomron, one feels the thousands of years of Jewish history and viticulture. Wine was made here thousands of years ago and it is clear why. Sloping hills and towering mountains are the dramatic backdrops of the Avraham vineyards near Mount Abel.
A dedicated vineyard manager, the years of hard work and being in the sun clearly show on Amichai’s face, but the love and dedication to the vines sparkle in his eyes. Every vine is carefully monitored and inspected; the vineyards are in constant care. Hashem blesses the region with rich soil, abundant minerals, and the highest quality grapes.
Amichai scours all over the region and contracts with vineyards and farmers, choosing for Shiloh the best terroir where vines will flourish in harmony with the soil. The high mountain ranges provide for rich sunlight by day and cool breezes by night. The results are some of the most exceptional wines to emerge from Israel, wowing and delighting the kosher consumer and mainstream connoisseur alike.
The Shiloh Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is one of Israel’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines, rich and spicy with notes of fruit, flowers, tobacco, and oak. This wine drinks well now and will cellar for 10+ years.
The Shiloh Mosaic is a complex blend. I can clearly remember the youth and vibrancy of the ‘06 when I had it a couple of years ago, jammy and spicy. Jump ahead 10 years, and the 2016 is a profound and legendary wine with delicious perfume aromas — robust, intense concentration, deeply extracted fruit, strong cinnamon, and delightful balance.
Perhaps Shiloh’s most unique wines, aptly named, are the Legend series. Combining a blend of various grapes, Amichai has made the Shiloh Legend Honi and Shiloh Legend Fiddler highly enjoyable wines. Sophisticated wine lovers and novices alike will truly appreciate these wines. The blends are original; the nose and mouth are equally memorable. Enjoy with any meal or on any occasion; drink now or in 10 years. No matter the circumstance, you’ll be glad you had any of these wines.
Summer calls for cool, crisp, and refreshing whites and Amichai delivers magnificently with a lovely, elegant Shiloh Chardonnay. It tastes of rich fruit from a tropical paradise with balanced acid and just the right butteriness to make this wine a winner.
Crisp and light, the Sauvignon Blanc dances on your tongue in delicate but delicious ways that will send you back for refills.
Driving to Yerushalayim I feel like one of the oleh regel, dancing and singing as they made their way down this very road with their bikurim to give to Hashem in the Beis HaMikdash, iy’H soon to be rebuilt. I know they will be using Shiloh wines in the Beis HaMikdash’s services and festivities.