A Napa-trained winemaker and local technology entrepreneur create a Napa-style wine estate Times of Israel, Jessica Steinberg, July 27, 2012
The 14 original homes in the picturesque village of Bat Shlomo, a verdant moshav on the southern slopes of Mount Carmel, are still standing, their stucco exteriors, wooden windows and red-tiled roofs a testament to the country’s early history.
When established by British benefactor Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1889, he planned for the moshav to grow mulberries for silk and grapes for the winery he had founded in nearby Zichron Yaakov, a sister village. Neither idea came to fruition, but the village still exists, its original street inhabited by a combination of old-timers and newcomers. Now it is another newcomer, serial entrepreneur Elie Wurtman, who plans on bringing back grapes, wine and the pioneering spirit to this particular piece of land.
Born in the US and raised in Israel, Wurtman has been a pioneer of the high-tech sort for the last 15 years, starting up several successful Israeli companies and eventually moving into venture capital. His dream, however, has been to create a small winery, something that would engage him as an investor and farmer, and involve others as well. Yet it was only when he stumbled upon the rundown, one-street community of Bat Shlomo, named for Rothschild’s mother, Betty Salomon, the daughter of Salomon or Shlomo, that the idea for the Bat Shlomo Winery came to, well, fruition.
“It’s this melding of a long-held desire to make wine, together with the Zionist emotional dream around reviving this place where everything started,” said Wurtman. “It was as though this whole place had been forgotten, and I thought it needed to be a living museum to the pioneers. If I hadn’t stumbled upon Bat Shlomo I probably wouldn’t have started the winery, but it just made sense.”