The history of Zichron Yaakov starts with wine – it was the birthplace of Israel’s wine industry, and it is a picturesque town with lovely restaurants and wineries to enjoy.
The First Aliyah Museum tells the story of the pioneers who came to tame the land and plant the vineyards, and the problems that they encountered. The key figure in the history of Zichron Yaakov was Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, a French Jewish philanthropist and winemaker, who spotted the potential of this area of Israel for growing grapes for wine. He worked with the original pioneers to establish Israel’s first ‘start-up’!
The success of their venture can be seen and tasted at their flagship Carmel Winery, established in 1890 and still producing wine using a mixture of traditional and modern technologies. We recommend taking a tour here to learn about the history of vinification in Israel and to taste some of their world-renowned wines.
The Rothschilds were buried near to Zichron Yaakov and a beautiful garden was planted in their memory. The Ramat HaNadiv Gardens are among the best kept gardens in Israel and well worth a visit. After letting off steam in the gardens, kids of all ages will enjoy the Baron’s Code Escape Room, featuring games and puzzles in English around the theme of the town’s history.
Another fascinating story that you can explore in Zichron Yaakov is the history of N.I.L.I., a Jewish family that spied on the Turks for the British during the early years of the 20th century. Their home – Beit Aaronsohn – has been restored as a museum, with a movie telling their story of heroism and tragedy.
Many of the old houses in Zichron Yaakov have been carefully preserved and the center of the town is a pedestrianized area with boutique stores and galleries selling hand-made jewellery and household items. There are also wonderful restaurants here, pairing delicious food with locally produced wines.
Our favorite winery is just outside the town, on the road to Binyamina. The Tishbi Winery is a family-owned business going back five generations, and if you are fortunate you can meet and tour with its owner. A Tishbi wine tasting can be combined with tasting gourmet chocolates, or with a delicious meal in their beautiful restaurant. You can even bring empty glass bottles and fill them with house wine straight from the barrel – it’s our favorite form of recycling!
Talk to Shatour about including a visit to Zichron Yaakov as part of your Israel tour, or as part of one of our Wine Tours.