Before you head out to find flowers or try on textured textiles, drive past the Nachshon Intersection and up to the next traffic light, where you’ll find the left-turn lane for Moshav Tel Shachar. Named for American-Jewish politician Henry Morgenthau Jr. (whose German name translates to Tel Shachar, which means Hill of the Dawn), like many moshavim, Tel Shachar hasn’t exactly abandoned agriculture, but has turned its hen houses and cow sheds into artisanal cheese ventures and boutique wineries.
Da’at often takes its tours to Shvil Izim, Tel Shachar’s family-run goat farm that specializes in its own goat cheeses, including a Gouda, a well-reviewed Manchego and their own Soreq, named for the region, as well as soft feta, labane, Camembert and yogurts. Made from a herd of 100 goats, you can sit down and enjoy a cheese plate or bowl of soup at the café next to the goat shed – which is also worth a visit — or have them pack you a picnic for your jaunt in the forest. If you like, make a quick stop next door at the Soreq winery, known for its Cabernet and Merlot wines, as well as its wine tastings and classes.
The region, known as Shimshon or Samson, is situated between the Ayalon and Soreq valleys, the foothills of the Jerusalem Mountains and the Mediterranean Coast and was known for its wine production 2,000 years ago. Although Israel’s premier wine critic Daniel Rogov writes that the limestone, clay and loamy soils of the area do not offer ideal conditions for grape cultivation, nevertheless, the area has now become boutique winery central. The Shacham family established the Soreq winery in 1994, with the son as vintner and parents as proprietors. They now produce 10,000 bottles a year from a 30-year-old vineyard as well as a younger vineyard planted on the nearby slopes of the Judean Hills.
Just so you know, Daniel Rogov entirely approves of the Soreq Merlot 2005. Made from Merlot grapes, and with “soft tannins and spicy wood integrating nicely to reveal generous cedary blackberry and wild berries on a background of sage and minerals,” it received an 89 score. As for the nearby Karmei Yosef winery, which Rogov visited back in February, he feels that the Bravdo wines “reflect both the philosophy and signature of the winery,” and the 2008 and 2009 wines are the best to date.