Vered and Erez Ben Sa’adon started Tura Winery as a family-run Estate Winery. Today we’re speaking with Vered to find out the story of how Tura winery began, and what it takes to run a full-fledged Estate Winery in Israel, according to the Jewish laws of planting.
What makes Tura an “Estate Winery”?
An Estate Winery is a winery that owns the vineyard, grows the grapes, produces the wine, and then sells the wine. The fact that we do everything in-house makes us an Estate Winery. Our entire focus is on the wine that will be produced at the end, we are not looking to grow specific quantities of grapes in order to sell them. We grow fewer grapes on each vine, and have the vines at 850 meters above sea level, to maintain a very high quality of the grapes.
What's the difference between an estate wine and a single vineyard wine?
Estate Wineries grow, sell, and produce the wine on their own. In a "single vineyard" wine, a winery can buy grapes from any one vineyard. They will choose the varietal and then produce the wine from those grapes.
Why did you want to run an estate winery?
We believe that growing and producing our own grapes makes a better wine. We cut out the middle-man and can touch and watch the grapes at each step of the process, to ensure a quality product at the end.
Tura Winery also sells olive oil, and just like the grapes, we grow our own olives and oversee the entire production.
Do you ever go and visit other wineries? Do you specifically visit Estate Wineries?
Yes, we have visited many different wineries here in Israel and around the world, in places like South Africa, Italy, France, and Spain. Many of the international wineries we visit are Estate Wineries. However in Israel, they are not so common, because there are so many wineries and not that many vineyards. So it is generally not the same people who are planting and producing the wines.
Tell us about starting Tura Winery. How did you get the land, the grapes, and the labor?
In the beginner, we began as vintners, wine growers. We saw with the first wine vintage that we had one of the best vineyards of Israel. For a few years, we sold the grapes to a large winery that produced quality wines.
However, due to international politics with this region of Israel, they stopped buying from us and we were left with all these extra grapes. So it was time to evolve and change our business plan. We opened Tura Winery in 2003 with just four barrels of wine, producing 1,200 bottles. Each year more and more people are discovering our special grapes and high quality wines, and our production grows as well. Today, we produce over 100,000 bottles a year! We also offer winery visits and tasting, and have had thousands of people come and see the story of Tura firsthand.
Due to political issues in Israel, we cannot own the land, so we have a 49 year long-term lease from the government. However, the vineyard and everything invested into it - the grapes, the irrigation, the wine graphs and work - is our own. After 49 years, we will make a new contract with the government to continue planting on the land.
On your logo, you mention "Patience & Inspiration" - Can you tell us more about that? What do these words mean to you and how do they relate to the wine?
You need to have a lot of patience to produce wine. Especially in Israel, we follow the biblical Jewish laws for planting, called Orlah and Neta Revai. These laws prohibit eating and selling edible fruit within the first four years of planting the trees or vineyards. Even after those four years are over, we age the juice for two years in barrels and then another year in bottles. That means it took seven years before we got our first batch of wine! After the first vintage, the laws no longer apply, so we have ‘only’ a three year waiting period until the wine is ready to drink.
We get inspiration from the land and it’s rich biblical roots. Our winery is located in Samaria, called Shomron in Hebrew. Over 2,000 years ago, people produced wine right here, the best wines in the area, and they brought it to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Gemara even talks about the high quality of wines produced from this region. So there is a rich history of Jewish people and wine production in this area, and we are inspired to continue the tradition.
What advice would you give to someone dreaming about running their own winery one day?
Years ago, when my husband and I were thinking of opening a winery, many people gave us advice, and I will share it here with you. If you don’t have a lot of patience or money, this probably isn’t the best thing for you. It may sound blunt, but this is a big investment, it is hard labor, and the work is never ending. But the good thing is, after many hard years of work, we have seen a lot of hatzlacha (success), and we know that G-d is helping us every step of the way. Running a winery takes even more than hard work and money - it is truly a miracle. We see G-d is with us every day, and so at the end, all the hard work is worth it!