Eight Generations of Wine
1848 Winery celebrates the generations of the Galina-Shor family. The patriarch of the family in the Land of Israel, was Rabbi Mordechai Avraham Galina. He made Aliyah from the Ukraine and became Head of the Tiferet Israel Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He took pleasure in the renewal of Jewish settlement in the Old City of Jerusalem, but also observed the poverty in the community and understood the necessity to earn a living.
His son, Yitzhak Galina-Shor, saw a clear need for quality wine and decided to establish a family winery. His brother in law, Baruch Shor, had the necessary license required by the Ottoman authorities, so the family changed their name to Shor. The winery was situated on Haggai Street in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The cellar backed onto the ‘Kotel Ha’Katan’ (Little Western Wall.) Barrels were placed strategically to prevent anyone touching the Temple Mount by mistake. It was the earliest existing winery in Israel. Grapes were purchased from the local market, wines were made in large casks and sold in small barrels. There were no bottles or labels. Sales were by word of mouth. Nearly all the wines were sweet. The first evidence of the new family profession was shown in the census commissioned by Moses Montefiore in 1849.
Shmuel Shor was the 2nd generation of the family. He managed the winery in the Old City of Jerusalem. His wife Rosa, was a great character. She opened the first wine bar and shop in the Cotton Market in the Muslim Quarter, serving wine, brandy and arak. It was known as ‘Hamra Rosa’, which is Aramaic for ‘Rosa’s Winery’. The Shor family winery purchased grapes from Arab owned vineyards in the Hebron area, which were carried in baskets to Jerusalem on camels and donkeys. Families buying wine would go to the winery to fill up the only glass bottle they had, or another available container, returning when they needed a refill.
Rosa Shor took over the management of the winery, when her husband Shmuel passed away in 1921. After a ruling by the British Mandate in 1925, the winery was forced to find a new home after nearly 80 years in the Old City. They moved to Beit Israel in west Jerusalem and re-established the winery. The family lived on the upper floors, the winery was in the cellar-basement. Rosa, who lived opposite the winery, became the first woman to manage a winery in Israel. She was responsible for the successful transition from the Old City to their new home and winery. Grapes were local, including indigenous varieties such as Dabouki, which were still sourced from Hebron vineyards, and brought to the winery on donkeys. Wines were termed ‘sweet,’ or ‘sour’ (referring to dry and semi dry wines.)
The brothers Avraham Meir and Moshe Shalom Shor together formed the 4th generation. The winery was known as Shor Brothers. They were amongst the first to bottle and label wines, which these days is taken for granted. The labels in those days showed only basic information typed on an otherwise plain white background. This was a difficult time in the wine industry. Sales declined, many growers turned to citrus and the economy was in a depression, however the brothers managed to keep the winery going, despite the problems around them. Alicante was the main variety used.
Owing to the growing family, in the mid 1940’s the brothers split the business into two. Avraham Meir Shor continued to produce wine and manage what became known as AM Shor Winery. His brother found a new company, undertaking only to produce grape juice and spirits. After the founding of the State of Israel, labels became more colorful as marketing became an issue for the first time. When it became the norm to give businesses commercial instead of family names, the winery was renamed Zion Winery, which re-emphasized the family’s connection to Jerusalem. For the first time wines were given brand names like Port, Sherry, Malaga, Tokay and Medoc. The first distribution system was set up.
Elisha Shor, grandfather of Yossi Shor, was the 6th Generation. Significantly during his time, wine production became more mechanized. New machinery and equipment, that improved the control of the winemaking process, gradually replaced manual labor that was customary in the industry. A bottling plant was introduced. The winery grew in size. In 1982 they arranged to move to a larger site in Mishor Adumim, near the outskirts of Jerusalem, in what is the beginning of the Judean Desert. By now the grapes were grown in the Shefela (Judean Foothills.) Carignan came to be the dominant grape variety used.
Under Moshe Shor, Yossi’s father, the winery became the 6th largest winery in Israel. Sophisticated winemaking equipment was purchased including gentle presses, temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and small French oak barrels. The winery was transformed. For the first time they made varietals from noble grape varieties. They gained recognition for their quality and were praised for providing particularly good value for money. The winery won awards for quality.
Yossi Shor founded 1848 Winery in 2006, which became recognized for high quality in international markets. He invested in quality vineyards in the finest wine growing regions, in particular the Galilee and Judean Hills. They began growing the wine in the vineyards and aiming for quality at all costs. They updated winery equipment to state of the art levels, and employed a French born, Bordeaux trained winemaker. The quality wines won awards and recognition on the international stage. The 1848 wines gained the respect of wine lovers and connoisseurs alike, both in Israel and around the world.