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Golan Heights: let’s leave the controversy and see the real beauty of Israel’s wine country

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]About 6 months ago, I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the 5 bloggers to visit Israel through Vibe Israel. Golan Heights is one of the best places I’ve visited in this country (without knowing what is it all about, I usually just jump) and I’d love to share this experience with you![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][mkdf_section_title position=”” title_tag=”” disable_break_words=”no” tagline=”Visiting the Golan Heights” title=”What is it about Golan Heights that’s in the news?”][vc_column_text]I didn’t want to go to this topic but you deserve to know. You are already knowledgeable about how I continuously express my undying love for Israel but the Golan Heights controversy is about bordering Syria and Lebanon – aka, the war-torn countries. If you try to Google the Golan Heights, you will see an endless string of negative news but if you ask me if it’s safe, well, I was there and definitely didn’t feel threatened.

It feels a little weird to be sipping wine and eating grapes with no hands when you can see Syria, not from a far distance but what can we do? Don’t make yourself feel bad about visiting Israel’s wine country and don’t you ever feel scared because it is truly a place you should pay attention to. If you think Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are the only places to visit when you travel to Israel, it’s up to you. But I am telling you, Golan Heights is worth a shot.

Here are some of the amazing things I’ve seen and done during my visit[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][mkdf_section_title position=”” title_tag=”” disable_break_words=”no” tagline=”Visiting the Golan Heights” title=”4×4 jeep tour”][vc_column_text]I didn’t know where we were going but when I saw the jeeps upon alighting the bus, it already smelled fun. I immediately called for shotgun. At times like this, the front row is always the best seat. The jeep had this foldable windshield feature that came handy when I was almost drowning in dust. Of course, what else do you need when doing rides like this? Music. The jeep had fecking usb plugs and speakers where I freely put my roadtrip playlist on. The driver was kind enough to offer his humble sound system and didn’t mind whatever I played. He even sung to “No Scrubs!”

It’s dusty, it’s rough, it’s bumpy but we drove around for hours seeing endless fields and impressive mountain views. This is where the diversity of Israel comes in. I proved it to be true that this small country has everything. From beaches to deserts to forests – Israel has it all!

In one of the stops, we saw huge windmills overlooking Syria. We had a chance to sit there and listen to silence. “It’s a peaceful day today, thank God,” our tour guide said. On normal days, you can hear lound bangs in that area because of its close proximity to Al-Harra, a small town in the south of Syria. Look at my jumping pic above. You can literally see this town![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][mkdf_section_title position=”” title_tag=”” disable_break_words=”no” tagline=”Visiting the Golan Heights” title=”Cooking classes with an Israeli chef”][vc_column_text]After the bumpy ride, we arrived a vineyard thinking assuming lunch is set. The mighty Chef Nir Margalith of Puzzle Israel surprised us by saying that we will have to make our own lunch. I love to cook with all my heart but all I wanted to do at that moment was to eat!

As a world citizen who wants to be part of the experience, I took the plunge. Chef Nir assigned us to chop a lot of veggies while the rest of his crew was already searing and grilling meat that I secretly tasted while everyone was busy chopping. There were strong winds in between I didn’t know if the vegetables we were chopping were clean but feck it – Chef Nir makes it easy. We didn’t have to do much. He did everything!

I got really confused when food was served. Different dishes were flying left and right and they didn’t look familiar. “Where the hell are the vegetables I cut?!” was the only thing I can think of. The dishes were so gorgeous there is no way that I did that.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][mkdf_section_title position=”” title_tag=”” disable_break_words=”no” tagline=”Visiting the Golan Heights” title=”Wine tasting”][vc_column_text]

“Wine conveys a feeling of its source from within. The region in which the grapes are grown is embedded in the taste, aroma and color of the wine. Wine, therefore, has the power to embody the culture, language, scents and people of its region.”  – Victor Schoenfeld

As if we didn’t have enough wine in our system (we were drinking since noon that day), The Golan Heights Winery invited us for another treat – wine tasting in their very own factory. In here, we got a chance to have a private tasting with the cool winery peeps that gave us nothing but the best experience.

Did you know that wine civilisation started in this area? Not really in Israel but no matter how many regions and countries in the world are claiming wine originated from them, it is definitely Assyrian. I wonder why every time wine comes up, it’s always France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Australia, South Africa and not Israel or Syria. No matter how famous these countries are for wine, as a wine enthusiast, I think Israel’s wine country should be in that map.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][mkdf_section_title position=”” title_tag=”” disable_break_words=”no” tagline=”Visiting the Golan Heights” title=”Music festival at a vineyard”][vc_column_text]I told you the drinking never stops (sorry, mum). Can you imagine that super long day of drowning in wine didn’t end there? After the wine tasting, we immediately went to a party at a volcanic crater in the Golan Heights. Yep, volcanic crater. More sand. More wine. More fun.

On most of the photos above (please check the slideshow, I promise it’s fun!), you will see me rocking and rolling because this event was with unlimited wines! Upon entry, we were given plastic wine glasses which we can refill as we please. Music was super upbeat and this was the time when I slowly discovered the heart of the artistry of the Israelis.

I don’t really remember how the night ended but I do remember the day after – I was hung over and slowly concluded that I wanted to live in Israel.

And I did.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Have you been to the Golan Heights? If not, what did you hear about it? Will you ever consider to visit? I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave it on the comment box below!

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Holly

Wednesday 26th of April 2017

Looks like a ton of fun. Love the windmills too. Maybe one day I will get there.

Rhonda Albom

Wednesday 26th of April 2017

Sounds like a wonderful adventure to a part of Israel we read so little about by travellers lately. It is good to know you felt safe and had fun.

Chrysoula

Wednesday 26th of April 2017

I have never heard about this place before in the news but I might not remember the name as well. It looks amazing. I am fan of wineries so it is a place I would love to visit.

Irene Kot

Monday 24th of April 2017

Hi! What an interesting post. Reading blogs of travelers inspires me. I like traveling and Israel just became my new target! This country is one of those counties that managed to save the national character and traditions. I hope that my plans will come true and soon I will describe my new vacation in my blog.

sherianne

Sunday 23rd of April 2017

I have been to the Golan Heights, but not THIS Golan Heights. I had know idea their was a winery and I don't remember the windmills. I do remember rolling green hills with pretty little red flowers... and a field with active mines signs everywhere