Yashfe Winery Safed
|Tzfat based winery based on ancient principles of wine making.
Yehiel Yashfe came to Israel from Russia as a teen. He studied aeronautical engineering at Haifa’s Technion University and acquired a pilot’s license. While working at the Dassault plant in France he developed a taste for fine wine.
Yashfe became more religiously observant when he was in his 40s. One ritual, the “kiddush” -- sanctification -- over the Sabbath wine was difficult for him because the kiddush wine in Israel at that time was undrinkable. Once, at a friend’s house, he tasted excellent kiddush wine. When he asked his friend where it would be possible to buy the wine his friend explained that he made the wine himself.
Yehiel and his family moved to Tzfat. Yehiel wanted to study Kabbalah and wished to develop spiritually, but he continued to travel to Jerusalem to buy his friend’s wine. Eventually, his friend taught him how to make wine, explaining that he simply crushed the grapes by stomping them with his feet, placing them into a barrel and adding 20% sugar. After 40 days the wine was ready.
In 1997 the vintner at a local winery, Kerem Ben Zimra, gave Yoshfe 100 pounds of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The vintner told Yehiel that he must add sugar in order to prevent the wine from turning sour. Yehiel added sugar to 80% of the grapes but left 20% of the grapes to ferment without sugar. After 40 days of fermentation he tasted both wines and discovered that the unsweetened wine was the best.
In succeeding years Yoshfe increased his quantities and varieties of red and white wines Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines. The grapes are crushed by stomping on them in the age-old manner of foot-treading. Yoshfe adds no sulfites to the juice. Yashfe believes that the B sulfites present in commercial wines cause headaches and other after-affects of drinking wine. “I don’t ruin wine in order to preserve it” Yashfe says. In addition, Yashfe also refuses to filter the yeast from the juice, saying “natural wine is not artificial. Wine courses teach the chemistry of winemaking, We study Torah, not chemistry. "
Yashfe stores his wines in clay barrels, the same kind of storage vessels that wine-makers used thousands of years go.
Yashfe’s wines are sold in small quantities in Italy, the Netherlands and the United States. He produces all of his wines in the wine celler of his hundreds-year-old house in Tzfat’s Old City. The labels for his wines were created by his son, an artist and an architect.
Visitors are welcome to visit the Yoshfe winery, located on the lane above the HaMeiri Museum in Tzfat’s Old Jewish Quarter. Visitors should book a visit in advance.