In 1988, almost by chance, Eli Ben Zaken planted the first modern-day vineyard to be found in the Judean Hills, in the backyard of his home in Ramat Raziel. Within four years’ time, family and close friends came together to harvest the grapes that would become the winery’s very first wine – Castel Grand Vin 1992.
Though he was a novice pioneer, Eli was a “very serious amateur” from this first harvest – he aimed for the highest, most meticulous standards, as accustomed in the finest wine regions. He envisioned a thriving family winery that would offer future generations the chance to take part in a shared creation, for generations to come.
Eli’s children, Ariel, Eytan and Ilana, carry on the tradition. Ariel, who spent two years studying winegrowing and winemaking in Beaune, France, the wine capital of the Burgundy region, has been CEO of the winery for over 15 years. Eytan was entrusted with managing the family restaurant in Jerusalem, while continuing to study the art of winemaking with Eli, and holds the position of winemaker beside him to this day. Ilana, the eldest daughter, is the winery’s Director of Export & Procurement. All of the grandchildren have vineyards bearing their name in the kibutz of Ma’ale HaHamisha – Malbec “Na’ama”, Malbec “Itamar”, Cabernet “Bat-Ami”, Cabernet “Gideon”, Petit Verdot “Polly”, Merlot “Alon”, and Chardonnay “Aviv”.
The archeological evidence found in nearly every corner of the land leaves no room for doubt – grapes grew on these grounds and wine was made here. Historical sources reveal that the Judean region was considered the pinnacle of wine country (“Judah, thee shall thy brethren praise”;”, Genesis 49).
From the very beginning, to this day, we continue to plant our vineyards, cultivate our grounds, and study the unique terroir with a vision of quality as our guide. All our vineyards are located in the Judean Hills, within a 4.5 km radium of our winery, at an average height of approximately 750 meters above sea level.
With the harvest of 2015, the winery in Yad HaShmona was officially opened, after a 23-year run in Ramat Raziel.
Castel’s philosophy and winemaking values are an inseparable part of the winery’s new home – harmony, esthetics, refinement, patience, elegance and precision; all these guide us when creating the wines we love to drink. Wines with a strong presence and stamina, but with a hint of “down to earth” modesty.
Haute Judee 9089500, Israel
Tel: +972 2 535 85 55
Fax: +972 2 570 09 95
Visits, tastings and events may be booked in advance.
Sun-Thurs: 08:00 – 17:00
Friday: By appointment only.