A private tour of the Hebron Heights winery

on 34 Comments

The authors of this post wished to remain anonymous beyond first names. They undertook their adventure with a new solidarity group, the Hebron Freedom Fund. –Editor.

We, Leo and Molly, are a married couple from Europe. We were asked by YAS (Youth Against Settlements ) in Hebron to go to Hebron Heights Winery and take photos. What qualifies us is a special gift the local Palestinian activists and experienced international campaigners don’t have: we’re good at playing callow tourists – bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! (After all, that’s exactly what one of us looks like.)

Our preparation for the job consisted of four steps:

1) Finding out as much about the winery on the internet as possible.

2) Making up an inconspicuous story that allows us to go there and to take a lot of photos: “We are tourists who were invited to a Shabbat dinner by a religious/devout Jewish family and don’t want to show up with empty hands.”

3) Changing our clothing and equipment: Off with the keffiyeh, replace the map from B’Tselem and the Arabic dictionary with some propaganda from the settlers and a Hebrew dictionary. (With Leo’s white shirt and Molly’s skirt we even looked closely enough like settlers for a few Palestinian kids to throw stones at us.)

4) Adapting our language: Only “Arabs” never “Palestinians” and so on. But not too perfect! We still are wide-eyed tourists, aren’t we?

Then the adventure begins.

Consistent with our story we take a few photos in front of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and make our way to the winery from there. It’s located in an industrial area directly behind the settlement of Kiryat Arba, which is adjacent to Hebron. And it’s in no way as fancy as their promotion homepages made us think. We pass a vacant army watchtower, pieces of waste land, a kind of car repair shop, completely wrecked cars and man-high hills of waste and rubble. Uphill from the Winery we see mobile homes and building activities. We wonder whether this officially is an expansion of Kiryat Arba or an outpost.

Settler construction on a hillside east of Hebron, adjacent to Kiryat Arba


Our object of interest turns out to be some warehouses – normal, standard industrial architecture. We don’t see anybody and start to take photos from the outside: the machine that crushes the grapes and into which the lorries directly unload from the road, also a few wine tanks. There is no closed gate, so we go around to the backyard. (After all, the main quality we learned from the Israelis is “chutzpah” – impudence.) Here we meet Daniel, tell him our story and stress how amazed we are at the winery. They don’t sell wine here, and he can’t make any decisions, so he takes us to his boss.

Moshe is the production manager (or something close). He listens to our story, realizes how amazed we are and proudly gives us a private tour. He shows us the big tanks where they ferment the wine (18,000 litres each), the barrels where the wine is ageing, the wine bottles and boxes, and last but not least the on-going labelling and packing process.

Moshe at the winery, in middle

Boxes are labeled “Made in Israel.” A bottle of Riesling says “Jerusalem Winery – 42820 Geulim – Israel,” falsely listing it as being located within the 1948 borders of Israel. This labelling fraud can cause Hebron Heights Winery and Israel trouble with the European Union. According to EU rules, Israeli goods have privileged access to the European market. But, goods from the settlements don’t. Israel is always denying that goods made in the settlements are falsely labelled as “Made in Israel”. But now we have proof!

The Riesling, with false labelling to indicate that it is not from an illegal settlement

Moshe tells us that the winery produces 400,000 – 500,000 litres of kosher wine per year. The Hebron Heights Winery, Moshe goes on to tell us, is mainly processing wines from the Hebron area. – The vineyards are mainly in the southern West Bank and all have to be “owned“ by law-abiding Jews… that’s occupation at its best (er – worst)!

Moshe himself neither speaks Hebrew nor English as his mother tongue, but Afrikaans, since he comes from South Africa, where he worked in the security business. So, life in the West Bank isn’t completely new to him. That feels unsurprising to us.


Moshe with wine

At the end of the tour, Moshe phones the owner of the Winery to ask if he’s allowed to give us two bottles of wine as a present. He is allowed to, picks two freshly labelled bottles from the production line, poses with them for a photo and hands them to us. The rest of the bottles head out to be sold. Outside of Palestine companies like Kosher Wine Cellar in London, Kosherwine.com in Washington, DC, JWines in Pittsburgh, at Happy Hearts Wine in Brooklyn carry them for sale.

About Hebron Freedom Fund

Hebron Freedom Fund supports Palestinian nonviolence and resilience in the most heavily occupied city in the West Bank.

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34 Responses

  1. Liz
    January 13, 2018, 2:24 pm

    Thank you for such an amazing story–great investigative journalism! What an incredible way to uncover more of Israel’s illegal activities. Thank you.

  2. Boris
    January 13, 2018, 3:51 pm

    I think it is one thing to be against something politically, and we don’t have to agree on everything.

    But one thing that we may agree that it was kind of low to accept the two bottles from Moshe as a gift. You should have paid for them.

    • just
      January 13, 2018, 6:30 pm

      “Boris January 13, 2018, 8:53 am
      This is my last comment here, which sums everything up:

      Losers, you can’t face reality!”

      LOL! That was quick…

      • JosephA
        January 14, 2018, 10:02 am

        Did anybody else notice how Boris and other zionists always resort to non-sequitur commentary to change the subject?

        How about addressing that the winery is patently making false statements on their labels?

        How about responding to the fact that the Hebron Heights Winery was built on stolen Palestinian land?

        Finally, thank you @just for calling out Boris and his bullshit. He “just” got served.

      • Mooser
        January 14, 2018, 1:08 pm

        “LOL! That was quick…”

        Reminds me of an old song.

        And a winery may not be licensed for retail sales.

    • eljay
      January 13, 2018, 6:47 pm

      || Boris: … But one thing that we may agree that it was kind of low to accept the two bottles from Moshe as a gift. You should have paid for them. ||

      “We” may agree with you, but I don’t agree that they should have put more money into the coffers of Jewish supremacists or their colonialist-based venture.

    • Marnie
      January 14, 2018, 12:08 pm

      Loser! Can’t even stay away for 24 hours! Bwaahhaaahhhaahhhaahhaaahhaaaahhhaaaahhaaa!!!

      Actually ‘Boris’, Moshe and the owners of this illegal still should be made to give every shekel they make from the sale of their hooch from the palestinians whose land they’re on, until a better arrangement can be made. .

    • Boris
      January 16, 2018, 3:44 pm

      I was obviously referring to that specific thread as discussion was going on a tangent and I had said everything that I wanted in relation to that topic.

      • Mooser
        January 16, 2018, 5:23 pm

        ” and I had said everything that I wanted in relation to that topic.”

        So all your complaints about Moderation, and time-stamps was just so much chazzerei.

  3. peacenotapartheid
    January 13, 2018, 4:06 pm

    Great work. Is there any disincentive or penalty for companies that are caught using false origin labeling?

  4. just
    January 13, 2018, 5:44 pm

    Thanks for this, Leo and Molly. Exposure of Israeli thievery and lying is paramount in the struggle for Palestinian rights. More, please! So how did the Palestinian wine taste?

    ” The vineyards are mainly in the southern West Bank and all have to be “owned“ by law-abiding Jews… ”

    “law- abiding”??? rotflmao!

  5. Rob Roy
    January 14, 2018, 6:55 am

    Great investigative article. Reminds me of Jaffa oranges, also stolen with pride.

    • Cazador
      January 15, 2018, 11:20 pm

      Rob Roy,

      In Canada, we have Pitted Jaffa Dates, Seedless Jaffa Raisins, «Prepared by Reinhart Foods, Ontario, Canada ».

      That’s it for the country of origin. The produce labelling law was changed under the previous Prime Minister, and the country of origin was not required on the label anymore, so Israeli products could be sold in Canada without questions asked about their real origin, illegal or not…

      Probably as a gift of gratitude for «Israel’s best friend», as Netanyahu called him, his name is forever known at the Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor Education Centre.


      That says it all…

  6. Paranam Kid
    January 14, 2018, 8:49 am

    Leo & Molly, this is a bit of dynamite, so you should use it !! Are you handing over this incontrovertible evidence to the relevant authorities in EU and the US ?

    You should, and when you do you should ask to be kept informed as to what is being done with this info.

    Please don’t let it rest here, complete your audacious action route all the way.

    • JosephA
      January 14, 2018, 10:04 am

      I completely agree, didn’t Canada almost ban this thief wine that was mislabeled a few months ago? It’s important to assert this article and the fact of false labeling to the authorities in as many countries that sell it.

      • Elizabeth Block
        January 15, 2018, 9:13 am

        Yes, almost. The decision was rescinded within, I think, 48 hours (or less!) after pressure from Bnai Brith and other Zionist organizations, to which the government bowed.

      • Cazador
        January 15, 2018, 11:28 pm


        See my comment to Rob Roy above concerning Jaffa dry fruits, without a labelled country of origin, but «Prepared by Reinhart Foods, Ontario, Canada»…

        Yes, you can count on Bnai Brith and company to defend and promote Israeli business in Canada, thanks to Stephen Harper, previous Canada’s Prime Minister.

    • Marnie
      January 14, 2018, 12:07 pm

      Tally ho! Break those bottles against the wall and spread your reporting as far and wide as possible!

    • amigo
      January 14, 2018, 12:21 pm

      “Are you handing over this incontrovertible evidence to the relevant authorities in EU and the US ?”Panama Kid.

      Might I suggest Leo and Molly hand it over to the 20 BDS groups on the list compiled by Israel .I am sure they will know how to put it to good use.

      The list is available here.


      I will pass it on to the BDS folks in Dublin.I guess that means I will not be doing any Wine tasting in Occupied Hebron in the near future.Oh well , I will have to settle for the Bordeaux Region.

  7. LHunter
    January 14, 2018, 10:03 am

    Hope the Palestinian wine was delicious. I know they’ve been making wine in the region for thousands of years.

    Great reporting Leo & Molly. The corporate MSM has much to learn from you both.

  8. Ossinev
    January 14, 2018, 12:56 pm

    “Moshe himself neither speaks Hebrew nor English as his mother tongue, but Afrikaans, since he comes from South Africa”

    Sums it all up really. If pushed this lying two faced thief would probably say that he fled South Africa for his ancient God Given Biblical Homeland because of :
    A) Anti – Semitism
    B) He objected to Apartheid

    Or both

    “LOL! That was quick…”
    Yup he was basically giving us losers a little bit of time to face up to reality. Guess what we are screwing up again so in theory it`s bye bye Boris.

    • Mooser
      January 14, 2018, 2:33 pm

      “B) He objected to Apartheid…”


      “since he comes from South Africa, where he worked in the security business.

      • inbound39
        January 15, 2018, 5:16 pm

        Well done Molly and Leo…..expose the Zionist Israeli’s at every opportunity. BDS by upping the anti in their operations will crack Israel’s back which in the interests of justice and peace needs to happen.

  9. mkleiman
    January 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

    Many thanks for an excellent investigation and for your detailed write-up of the methods of operation. This is a model article.

  10. ritzl
    January 15, 2018, 11:49 pm

    What’s the UPC code?

    Can’t quite read it.

    Who sells it in the US?

  11. Steve Grover
    January 16, 2018, 2:00 am

    Glad to report they sold out of all of the wines made by Jerusalem Winery in my area. The stores hope to have it back in stock in next week. Mondoweiss and JVP does a great job of promoting Israeli wines.

    • James North
      January 16, 2018, 8:11 am

      Mooser: Try raising the your sock puppet’s comments to at least the level of a teenager. This is something a 10-year-old would say.

      • Mooser
        January 16, 2018, 12:50 pm

        “This is something a 10-year-old would say.”

        My sock-puppet “Steve Grover” is supposed to be an adult with a pretty good case of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome potentiated by Ziocaine Syndrome.

        I have never deviated from that formulation when writing my “Steve Grover” posts. Naturally, he sounds childish.

  12. John O
    January 16, 2018, 11:59 am

    Leo and Molly. Mr and Mrs Bloom from Dublin by any chance?

    • Tuyzentfloot
      January 16, 2018, 12:28 pm

      He could have caught on but he was blinded by the sun.

    • Mooser
      January 16, 2018, 12:54 pm

      “Mr and Mrs Bloom from Dublin by any chance?”

      Could very well be. When I read it my heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

      • John O
        January 16, 2018, 4:15 pm


  13. Sulphurdunn
    January 17, 2018, 1:43 pm

    Why would anyone drink Israeli wine? I hope this stuff is better than Mogen David or these folks will be out of business soon unless Sheldon Adelson buys it all, convinces American Zionists that drinking it is an act of patriotism, or else hands it out to homeless people and takes a tax write off for his charitable giving.

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