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Travel Insider

Meet Roni Saslove, Israel's pioneering female winemaker

Lilit Marcus, CNNUpdated 25th May 2017
(CNN) — With a Mediterranean climate not unlike Italy or Spain and a national faith that requires drinking "the fruit of the vine" on the Sabbath, it's not surprising that Israel has invested heavily in cultivating its wine industry.
But when it comes to individual winemakers putting Israeli wine on the worldwide stage, no one person's name comes up more often than Roni Saslove.
The Canada-born, Israel-bred winemaker, sommelier and educator has a love of the outdoors and the wine industry in her blood.
Her father, Barry Saslove, founded his namesake Saslove Winery in the Golan Heights in 1991, and it became clear that Roni would be the one of his children to pursue the family business.
She worked on her first wine harvest at the age of just fourteen and was immediately hooked.
During her mandatory post-high school national service, she worked as a nature guide for soldiers.
Saslove eventually joined her dad at the winery, but she had sights beyond the grapevines: cultivating not just wine but encouraging Israelis -- especially women -- to experiment with wine and learn more without feeling intimidated.
She noticed the way that many consumers, particularly women, would come to a wine tasting and immediately apologize for not knowing anything about wine or for not having tried many different kinds.
Others felt self-conscious and would get nervous about ordering the "wrong" wine.
That made Saslove begin considering a transition in her career, as not just a winemaker but as a wine evangelist.
Her family sold their winery, and Saslove relocated to Tel Aviv, where opened Tasting Room in the trendy Sarona neighborhood, giving people a chance to sample different wines, learn about different vintages and experiment with food pairings.
Now, she has become a sort of Israeli wine ambassador, traveling the world on behalf of her homeland and encouraging people around the world to try some of the best wines coming out of Israel.
"Israeli wines -- kind of like Israel -- they're very complex," she laughs.
A good place to begin? With one of Saslove's own wines, of course. "Adom," which means red in Hebrew, is a personal favorite of the vintner's.
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