Lady Judith Montefiore’s Diary is an important source of information. She outlined there were no commercial wineries in Jerusalem early 1800’s, but there were domestic winemakers, who provided wines for their family and community. There were over twenty of these, but the only two remembered are those that continue to exist today.
Sir Moses Montefiore was the most important visitor to Jerusalem in the 19th century. He was impressed by the piety of the Jews there, but appalled by the poverty. He thought that the inhabitants should work rather than just living off donations. He saw all the wild vines and olive trees on his travels and thought that Jews should return to agriculture. He outlined his vision in 1839. He bought the first land for use in agriculture and recommended that vines and olive trees were planted to give people a taste for agriculture. He built the Montefiore Windmill which was a symbol of the connection between industry and agriculture.
When Rabbi Mordechai Avraham Galina was made Rosh Yeshiva of Tiferet Yisrael in the Old City of Jerusalem, his son Rabbi Yitzhak Galina realized they needed to earn a living. He opened a winery in 1848 using the permit of his deceased brother-in-law, Rabbi Baruch Shor and changed his family name to Shor. It was the first recorded winery in Israel. Rabbi Yitzhak had been inspired by Moses Montefiore’s vision. The first harvest coincided exactly with Montefiore’s third visit to Jerusalem. Moreover, the first evidence of the winery appeared in the Census commissioned by Montefiore in 1949. After eighty years in the Old City, the Shor Winery moved to West Jerusalem. As the family grew, it was later split into three wineries: Arza, Hacormim & Zion, all now situated in Mishor Adumim. Under the direction of the seventh generation, both Arza and Zion Wineries, managed by Moti and Moshe Shor respectively, took significant steps to produce higher quality table wines in the 2000’s.
Rabbi Avraham Teperberg, made Aliyah from Austria in 1850 and settled in the Old City of Jerusalem. In 1852 he began distributing wine and spirits. In 1870 his son, Zeev Zaide Teperberg, founded a winery and named it ‘Efrat’. The winery moved out of the Old City in the 1920’s to West Jerusalem. After the founding of the State, the winery was reestablished by Menachem Teperberg, the fourth generation, in Mahane Yehuda and later it moved to Motza. In the 2000’s Moti Teperberg, the fifth generation, increased production and impressively improved quality. He changed the name from Efrat to Teperberg 1870, hired an internationally trained winemaker and built a new winery in the Judean Foothills.
Today, Teperberg 1870 is the fourth largest winery and the largest family owned winery in Israel. The Shor owned wineries, Arza and Zion, are amongst the ten largest wineries in Israel. The boutique 1848 Winery, a subsidiary of Zion, is the latest addition to the Shor family. It is an initiative of Yossi Shor, the eighth generation. The first Montefiores ever to make Aliyah, Rachel & David Montefiore, the sixth generation, founded Montefiore Winery to celebrate Moses Montefiore’s agricultural vision, his love for wine and his passion for Jerusalem. The names Montefiore, Shor and Teperberg live on.
It is true that Baron Edmond de Rothschild founded a modern Israeli wine industry, but the roots of Israeli wine reach back long before to those pioneers in the Old City of Jerusalem.