Judean Hills and Ella Valley: Wine, Cheese, Monasteries

Explore the Jerusalem Hills and Valleys

This tour takes you into the hills surrounding Jerusalem to explore kibbutz, moshav, monasteries, and a convent. Each of these unique communities produce excellent products to taste, view and buy. Visit hilltop goat cheese farms, a convent where the sisters produce lovely ceramic products, a monastery where monks sell the wine the make…

Note: Not all wine produced in Israel is kosher; we indicate which wines have kashrut supervision.

Enjoy the adventure!

 On this tour, you will explore the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and then descend to the plain.

First Stop: Har HaRuach in Nataf:

From Jerusalem: Exit the city on Rte 1, and look out for the turn off to Abu Ghosh on Rte 425, on the right side of the road. Follow 425 through the Christian Arab village of Abu Ghosh to the signs for Maale HaHamisha. Make a sharp right up a steep hill at the sign. Follow the road to a left turn off to Nataf. Har HaRuach is in the forest to your left at the Memorial to the Jews of Poland. The cheese farm is approx. 700 m. inside the forest.

From Tel Aviv: From Rte 1, exit at Hemed Interchange, cross over the highway and bear to your left. Follow the road to a traffic circle, and then the signs to Abu Ghosh. Enter the main street of Abu Ghosh, Rte 425, and follow the signs to Maale HaHamisha. Make a sharp right up a steep hill at the sign. Follow the road to a left turn off to Nataf. Har HaRuach is in the forest to your left at the Memorial to the Jews of Poland. The cheese farm is approx. 700 m. inside the forest.

Nataf

Har HaRuach Goat Cheese Farm

Har HaRuach Goat Cheese Farm organic goat and farm is located in a forest in the village of Nataf, high above Abu Ghosh – literally in the middle of nowhere.The cheeses are heavenly.

Opening Hours: Friday, 10 AM – 4 PM

Saturday: 11 AM – 5 PM

Contact: 02.534.5660.

T: 054.466.3353; 054.493.4566

Return to Rte 1. Our next stop, Moshav Beit Meir, is in the hills on the opposite side of the road. Drive in the direction of Tel Aviv. Exit at the Shoresh Interchange and cross the road to Rte 3955. Climb the mountain, passing Shoresh, and enter the gates of the moshav. Follow signs to the winery.

Moshav Beit Meir

HaMasrek Kosher Winery

HaMasrek Winery is located on Moshav Beit Meir off Rte 38, the Greengrass brothers converted the 3-generation family poultry business into a winemaking and bottling plant in 1999. Vintner Nahum studied winemaking in France and returned with the know-how necessary to produce quality Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Gewurtztraminer wines. During our tasting session, we learned how wines are bottled differently to distinguish a Burgundy froma Merlot, for example. Kosher.

T: 02.570.1759

Return to Rte 1 and use the underpass to cross over the road in the direction of Tel Aviv. Watch the signs and exit Rte 1 onto Rte 3 on your right. At the traffic light, turn left. At the next traffic light, turn left again, and another sharp left, that brings you to the gates of the monastery. Drive through the gates and park.

Latrun Trappist Monastery

Domaine de Latrun Winery

Located in a Trappist monastery, the vineyards are on site, and tended by the monks who have been producing wine here since the 1890s.


T: 08.925.5180

Closed on Sundays.

Exit the monastery. At the traffic light, go straight. Look for the entrance to the Latroun Tank Museum on your right. Go up the hill and park in the large parking lot. There is one cafeteria style restaurant (kosher) across from the entrance to the museum, as well as a fast food place (not kosher) near the gas station below. In addition, there is a small supermarket with sandwiches to go.

Latrun Tank Museum (Yad L'Shiryon)

Opposite the Latrun Monastery you will find an outdoor tank museum with tanks from World War I through advanced tanks in use today. Visitors are welcome to explore the tanks. To arrange an on site tours, contact the visitor center.

T: 08-924.6722, 08-925.5268

Latrun Radar Station

Look for a green dome further up the hill from the outdoor tank museum. This is a weather station under the management of the Dept. of Meteorology of Tel Aviv University. Located in the path of migrating birds, this radar station serves the dual purpose of detecting flocks of birds as they enter Israeli airspace – and then warn the airforce and commercial airlines. Migrating birds pose a major threat to airplanes and fighter jets. Visitors are welcome to see the exhibition explaining how birds may endanger lives.

Return to Rte 3 by making a left as you leave the compound, and a right onto Rte 3. Follow the road until you see signs for Kibbutz Nachshon. These signs will take you off Rte 3 to smaller roads. Follow signs and enter the kibbutz. If the gates are closed, call the cell phone number on the gate and see if they will let you in to see the winery. The best advise though, is to book your wine and cheese tours in advance.

Kibbutz Nachshon

Nachshon Winery

Nachshon Winery is located across the road from Latroun Monastery on Kibbutz Nachshon. The winery was established in 1996 and produces an annual yield of over 16,000 bottles. Besides the winery, Kibbutz Nachshon has a gourmet sheep and goat cheese plant, as well as a vitrage studio with original works by glass artist Shedmi, for sale.The cheeses are kosher. All three areas are worth a visit.

T: 08.927.8641

Neve Shalom / Wahat al-Salam / Oasis of Peace

The only community created with the express purpose of coexistence, Neve Shalom / Wahat al-Salam is a unique community where Jews and Arabs live side by side in peace. Throughout the elementary school years, children study together. Created in the early 1970s, the community has grown over the years. Visitors are welcome. Visit the unique House of Silence for prayer and meditation.

T: 02.991.7160; 02. 999.3030

Return to Rte 3 and continue south. At the traffic light, Nachshon Junction, turn left in the direction of Bet Shemesh onto Rte 44. Make a right at Rte 38 and stay on the road until a sign for Kibbutz Zora. Turn right and follow the winding road until it reaches the kibbutz entrance. Enter the kibbutz and turn right at the traffic circle. Follow the signs.

Kibbutz Zora

Tzora Winery

With an annual production of over 50,000 bottles, the kibbutz-owned winery located on Tzora Winery on Kibbutz Zora is one of the larger boutique wineries. On the day we visited, vintner Ronnie James was busy sweeping the floor of the tasting area. We soon learned, that casual appearances aside, this is a world class winery. Starting with the 2002 releases, the wines are kosher.

T: 02.990.8261

Exit Kibbutz Zora to Rte 3, and turn right, continuing in the direction you were travelling. Pass Bet Shemesh and Ramat Bet Shemesh. Look for a tiny road, with a sign on the right pointing you to the left, and make left turn into a semi-paved road among olive trees. Looks like Tuscany in the right season. Follow the road up the hill and park below the gates of the Convent.

Jimal

Convent of the Sisters of Bethlehem

Beit Jimal Monastery

Located approximately 5 km/3 mi south of Bet Shemesh.

Drive past Beit Shemesh and look for a small sign on the right side of the road, showing a left turn. Turn left and drive up a dirt road with olive trees on either side – reminiscent of Tuscany. All the way at the top, you will find two Christian communities: the Convent of the Sisters of Bethlehem established by Trappist nuns, and the Beit Jimal Monastery built by Salesian monks in 1881. Entrance to both communities is open to the public. There is video on the life of this silent order of nuns, and you can see their prayer room when you climb to the top of the building. In the small adjacent shop, ceramics and pottery made by the nuns are on sale, as well as convent- and monastery-produced olive oil.

PotteryConventJimal Convent

Return to Rte 38 and turn left. Proceed to HaElla Junction. Turn left onto Rte 375. Follow the road to the gates of Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Hey and enter. Follow signs to the winery.

Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Hey

Ella Valley Winery

Ella Valley Winery is located on Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Hey, the Ella Valley Winery is situated in a small park complete with outdoor tables and chairs, and cages of parakeets and birds. Wine production is over 300,000 bottles with a wide selection of types of wine: Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Semillon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot. We tasted wines from the Ever Red series. Besides wines, Ella Valley also produces an exquisite olive oil. Kosher.

T: 02.999.4885

Return to Rte 38 and turn left. Turn left onto Rte 3544 and follow signs to Moshav Zafririm.

Moshav Givat Yishayahu

Kela David Restaurant

French style chateau set among vineyards.

Winery. Olive trees and olive oil press.

Not kosher.
Where: Givat Yishayahu, off Rte 38.

T: 02.9994848

Closed Sunday.

Tip: Always call in advance to book a table.

Return to Rte 38, turn left and retrace back to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

Alternatively, you can return to Jerusalem via Gush Etzion (Etzion Bloc).
Return to Rte 38, turn right onto 375 to Etziona Junction. Follow Rte 367 on the right to Rte 60. Turn left on Rte 60 and follow the signs to Jerusalem via the Etzion Bloc.