Have you ever wondered what inspires one to open a winery? For Avraham Moro and Michel Metzger, two French Jews who immigrated to Israel over than 30 years ago, the answer was quite fascinating. The two friends, who had been partners in construction business before, opened a winery when they wanted a business that would bring them not just money, but happiness. At the Amos Winery, you can feel it.
Upon entering Amos winery, you first arrive at the visitor's center, a welcoming place where wine or coffee is served all day, music performances are held every Saturday evening, and art exhibitions take place from time to time.
When I ask the owners of the winery whether the visitors center brings any notable part of the profit, they start to laugh a bit nervously."We do not lose too much on this," Michel says with a sigh. "But we want to keep it anyway, because a winery is a business that you can only run with a joyous heart. Both me and Avraham like to have guests, like art and music, and we believe wine becomes better when there is music around."
"I always tell the musicians who come here: Remember, there are barrels of wine behind you, please play the music that the wine will like," Avraham adds.
He was the one who came up with the name for the winery – that of the prophet Amos, whose homeland was Biblical Tekoa and who said, "Behold days are coming, says the Lord, that the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt."
When Avraham was a boy, he lived in Burgundy, France, where his grandfather would make wine for the family meals from grapes that grew surrounding their house. In 1980, following his several year long "pursuit of God", as he puts it, Avraham came to Israel. Throughout his soul-searching, he converted to Judaism, took on the name of Avraham (which suits him –looking like a patriarch with his grey hair and big beard), and got married two years later. 30 out of his 37 grandchildren live in Judea & Samaria.
In the winery, he is mostly responsible for technical and engineering processes, while Michel deals more with the financial part of the business. They also have a professor of oenology (winemaking science) from the Beersheba University visit the winery regularly for advice. Amos Winery produces 15,000-20,000 bottles of wine per year from the grapes grown by Michel's relative in Latrun near Jerusalem.
The owners are intended to increase this number to 40,000-50,000 bottles next year, mostly for the American market. Along with wine, they also make liqueurs – from raspberries grown in Tekoa, and from cherries grown in the Golan Heights.
Stationing a winery in Judea & Samaria does not help the business, because of the BDS movement that makes it harder to market and sell products made outside the Israeli 'green line'. But Michel and Avraham say opening a winery in Tel Aviv or elsewhere in 'proper' Israel was not an option for them. "I do not like the word 'territories' at all," Michel explains. "I think all of Israel is our land, including the settlements, so why make distinctions? Our history is here, in Judea and Samaria, and we rely on people who understand this, and who are smart enough to tell art – which wine is – from politics." Speaking about the order of Cherry Liqueur from Lev Ha-Olam, Michel says, "It won't make us rich, but it warms our hearts to know that there are people around the world who know about our existence here and care about us, to know that we are not alone."