“And King Melchizedek of Shalem brought out bread and wine; he was a priest of Hashem Most High.” Genesis 14:18 (The Israel Bible™)
On the morning of the U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem, U.S. and Israeli Leaders made their first public statements at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel over breakfast and a wine tasting of the new red wine, blended specially for the occasion.
After receiving a request from the Orthodox Union (OU), Ella Valley Vineyards created the special commemorative edition wine honoring the historic relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, as is written on the label of the wine with the secular date and Hebrew date, along with the flags of Israel and the U.S.
The 2014 estate-bottled dry red wine includes a blend of 40 percent petit verdot, 30 percent cabernet sauvignon, and 30 percent merlot, all sourced from the Adulam region of the Judean Hills.
“We created this blend as a tribute and designed a special label to commemorate the event, giving the guests something nice and tasty to remember it by,” said winemaker Dror Engelstein, who called the request to make wine for the event was “very important” to them.
Engelstein is from Jerusalem himself, and because of the location of the winery in the Judean hills, he said, “one feels the Jerusalem terroir (how a particular region’s climate, soils and terrain affect the taste of wine) in the wine.”
Thus, Ella Valley Vineyards happily accepted the challenge of creating a new, special blend for the event that “represents the bests of the vineyard and hills of Ella Valley,” the Biblical setting in which the story of David and Goliath took place.
For the historical event, Rabbi Avi Berman, Executive Director of OU Israel, told Breaking Israel News, the OU wanted to choose a wine to which it provides kosher certification to feature at the event.
He said, “Because we are an educational organization, we try to make sure there’s meaning to everything we do. We decided to have a special wine at the event because in Judaism, wine is what elevates. We use wine to sanctify the Shabbat, the holidays, and all Jewish lifecycle events whether under the chuppah (wedding canopy) or circumcision.”
“We try to elevate ourselves and events in spirituality,” he added. “So when it came to choosing a wine for the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital and moving the embassy, we specifically wanted to choose Ella Valley because of the [twofold] deeper meaning.”
First, Berman explained, the story of David and Goliath reflects the message of ‘if you will it, it is no dream,’ much like the Jewish people’s will to establish its capital in Jerusalem. King David persistently fought Goliath, a giant, similar to the way in which “the OU has been lobbying for the embassy to move for many years, working with all US Presidents since 1972,” said Rabbi Berman.
“Some things take 46 years to build, but when you invest and are committed and persistent, you will receive results good for yourself, family, nation, and the whole world,” he told Breaking Israel News.
Second, the OU wanted to choose a winery that reflects the importance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people. After David fought Goliath as a young shepherd in the Ella Valley, he was later anointed as King and conquered Jerusalem, making it the Jewish capital.
So even though the OU works with a number of Jerusalem wineries, “Ella Valley is where the Jewish Kingdom in Jerusalem started,” Rabbi Berman told Breaking Israel News. “We wanted to bring some of that glory that King David was so passionate to bring.”
But the ancient connection of Ella Valley does not end there. The location of the modern winery, in the quiet Kibbutz Netiv Halamed Heh, was chosen after years of climate and soil checks, in a search of a suitable terroir.
“It was only after the location was chosen that those involved learned that the region had a history of viticulture and wine-making, a fact that 40 references in the Bible,” notes The Wine Route of Israel by Yaron Goldfisher and Eliezer Sacks.
Indeed, found in the region was an ancient wine press on the vineyard’s site.
Engelstein, proud to continue the ancient legacy of winemaking on the land, and in the context of the embassy move, said, “For us it’s an amazing event and we are happy to be here and offer our wine, it’s an honor… Jerusalem is in our heart.”