ESRA Magazine
ESRAmagazine
ESRAmagazine categories

"The Martin Sinkoff Wine Interview" with Michal Akerman

Michal Akerman, Manager, Tabor Winery

Tabor Winery 

Tabor Winery is one of Israel's leading wineries in both quality and volume. Located in a unique picturesque strip of land in the Kfar Tabor region, the winery is among those on the front lines of research about climate change in its vineyards. It explores creative, positive ways to live and thrive with new conditions. In 2020, Tabor appointed the winery's long-time vineyard manager and viticulturalist, Michal Akerman, to lead the winery. Here, she discusses her journey and her innovative ideas about eco-systems in the largest, most inclusive sense.

Tell us the history of Tabor winery and the ranges you produce 

Tabor Winery was founded in 2000 by four families in Kfar Tabor. They each had their own vineyards in the village.

In 2005, CBC Israel, distributor, and producer of beverages of all kinds including wines, beers, and alcohol, decided to invest in a winery. Recognizing Tabor's potential, CBC purchased the winery.

Since then, the winery has grown dramatically and is now one of Israel's most important wineries. Today, Tabor winery produces a full spectrum of wines in five different series.

Har – Tabor Mountain – "Har" is the name for our series of red, white and sparkling wines which are fruit forward for everyday pleasure with clear varietal expressions. Around NIS 39/bottle.

Adama – means soil. At Tabor Winery we believe that great wine grows in great vineyards and from great soil. The "Adama" series was born from matching our grape varieties with our very unique soil types. The wines come from small vineyard plots and are handled with special care from vineyard to bottle. Adama is our premium varietal series and excellent for every day and special occasions. Around NIS 59/bottle.

Eco – from ecological. We created the "Eco" series in order to draw attention to the sustainable revolution in our vineyards. The wines are blends from the best Tabor vineyards. Around NIS 84/bottle.

Single Vineyard – single grape variety wines from single vineyards. Our aim here is a pure vineyard focus. Around 100 NIS/bottle.

Malkia – our flagship wine. From a single vineyard on Mount Malkia in the upper Galilee. A unique and rare soil type makes this Cabernet one of a kind.

Finally, our winemakers, Or and Arieh, also make a wine that is tailored to their vision in each vintage which we call "Winemaker Selection". 

 How do you find yourself now, as one of Israel's most important wine personalities, managing one of the country's most important wineries?

I have been the head viticulturist at Tabor Winery since 2008 and from March 2020, the manager. I have had more than 20 years' experience in the wine industry. I have a BSc in agriculture from Hebrew University, and an MSc in viticulture from the prestigious Volkani Research Institute.

My greatest passion is finding the right growing method for every different variety and terroir. There is no single approach that suits every varietal or every microclimate. Having worked in both the "old world" while in France, and the "new world" in South Africa, I seek to marry the "old" and "new" world; to bring tradition and science together. Now as the manager of the winery, and after twenty years of talking to vines and learning their language, I am now learning how to talk to all kinds of people. We and they (the vineyards) are all part of our eco-system at Tabor.

What defines a wine from Tabor? What are the unique characteristics of Tabor? 

Or Nidbach, our winemaker, answered this question: "At Tabor we like our wines to be elegant expressions of our vineyards and our varietals. We like to think that the whole – the wine itself - is greater, better, and more important than the sum of its parts. I don't like to describe wine using worn-out wine language, but if I have to, I would say again that the wines of Tabor are very elegant, extroverted and friendly. They show their quality in a delicate but clear way." 

Tell us about the "Eco" range and your commitment to ecology. 

In 2012 I decided that our vineyard practices were destructive. Conventional viticulture was destroying the eco-balance that existed naturally. Monoculture affects how animals live and eat, the migratory patterns of birds, and destroys rare plants and microorganisms that are important for the harmony of the environment. As my work with the Tabor vineyards developed, I realized that we could work with nature and make the vineyards part of the natural environment.

I decided to cooperate with the Society of the Preservation of Nature in Israel, (SPNI), established in 1953, that protects and preserves Israel's natural resources and environment.

Now, ten years later, all of our vineyards are farmed in a sustainable, eco-conscious manner. And, as we hoped, the quality of our vineyards and wines has followed in lockstep. Our land is healthier and our wines are better. 

What is the intriguing bird on the label and what does it mean? 

The barn owl is the most efficient predator in nature. When this bird decides to nest in a place, it means the cycle of life and biodiversity in the environment is successful and complete. For us, it was a sign of our commitment to integrate and marry nature and viticulture. 

Arieh Nesher, Tabor’s head winemaker
Or Nidbach, Tabor’s winemaker

Your team is part of your eco-system. Or Nidbach and Arieh Nesher have amazing experience. Tell us more about each of them. 

Arieh Nesher was our first winemaker and has been with Tabor since day one. As Tabor's head winemaker he is leading the art of creating Tabor's finest wines. In 2008, Oren Sela (then CEO of Tabor winery) and Arieh understood that the winery needed to grow and that the most important first step was to attend to the vineyard. I joined Tabor in 2008.

Or Nidbach, the third member of our team, is our managing winemaker.

Following his formal education, which included a BSc in agriculture from the Hebrew University and a BSc in viticulture and enology from the prestigious UC Davis, California, Or joined us at Tabor in 2104. He has helped us define the personality of Tabor wines. He believes in elegant wines. "Wines can be complex and approachable at the same time," he says. Or brings a modern and youthful perspective to our winemaking team.

When I think of our team, I think of what Harry Truman wrote about teamwork: "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." The secret of our success at Tabor is that Arieh, Or and I work as an organic team. 

Do you have a visitor center at the winery? How can readers find you and visit the winery? 

We have a charming and inviting visitor center. And I invite everyone to come, to taste the wines, to listen to the unique story of this winery, and to feel the passion, the love, and the soul that we put into this work. 

Which wine do you recommend for our readers? Tell us about the wine and why you selected it. 


I selected two wines from our Eco series:

Eco Red (Around NIS 84 /bottle)

Eco White (Around NIS 84/ bottle)

I chose those wines because they are both blends that express the spirit, the quality, the vision and expertise of our team at Tabor.

Those wines tell the story of our vineyard philosophy and our team vision – that wines can be complex and approachable at the same time. Just like Israelis!

Author's notes

Tabor's wines are proof positive that Israeli wines have come of age. They are as good as wines produced anywhere in the world. The wines are uniformly delicious and are of great value across all of the winery's ranges. Most important, the winery quietly lives by core Jewish values: respect for the environment, respect for the consumer, respect for all the staff and employees of the winery, and respect for the place human beings have in the life of our environment. The wines are widely available.

Eco White 2021 and Eco Red 2016

Michal Akerman has described these two wines and I concur with her description. Eco White and Eco Red are both wines that challenge the mind and spirit and delight the palate. Youthful, energetic, full of life, they are wines for meals and conversation - not for "before-dinner" drinks. They are both wines from unusual blends which make them archetypical Israeli wines.

For more information: Taborwinery.co.il 

 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Guest
Thursday, 23 May 2024

Captcha Image

Israel

MagazineIsrael- 2019-homepage
There are pockets of coexistence
which kindle hope.
Old cities and very new cities with amazing stories
Find out about the Israeli art scene
The best tours in Israel with ESRA members