The Other Side of the Cork: Flam Winery: A Family Affair
By Yael E. Geller, MPH
The foundation of the Flam family business and culture are not an anomaly when it comes to the typical picture of a family business. It’s the same old story of a father and his wife and children following in his footsteps to establish a successful business which provides a service or product to the world in enough demand to continue to successfully create and fulfill the demand. Sounds totally wonderful and typically boring, except the story of the Flam family winery is not one that is boring or typical at all.
Most people don’t do anything for more than 10-20 years in their life, but the Flam family patriarch has been working with vines for over 50 years. Israel Flam graduated as the first Israeli to attend UC Davis’s viticulture and oenology school in 1968. In the 1970’s, Israel had left California and was appointed as the head winemaker at Carmel Winery the largest winery in Israel. During those years he met his wife Kami and his two sons and daughter were born. Golan, Gilad and Gefen all played respective roles in the eventual establishment of Flam winery. The idea for the winery was a dream Golan had during his first winemaking gig in the Tuscany region of Italy. His brother Gilad had come for a visit to see how his brother was getting along making wine at one of the most prestigious wineries in the world. Everywhere the brothers turn there were breathtaking views of vineyards, which they kept drinking in until they realized their own dream.
Golan is meticulous with his vineyards with an intimate knowledge of each region’s vines. Winemaking is not just about crushing some grapes, throwing them in a barrel and hoping for the best. The involvement of the winemaker in every minuscule nuance is key to creating a memorable bottle of wine according to Golan. It starts with the soil then caring for each and every vine with precision, utilizing technology, learn skill, just plain old intuition observing the region’s climate.
Locating and selecting the perfect region and soil for planting the vineyards was tasked to Golan. He spent many months scouting Israel from north to south, east to west looking for the best plots to make his vision a reality. Finding the right plots and establish an understanding with the vine-grower, deciding on the particular species to plant and hope that you made all the right decision along the way, is something that is unique to Israeli wineries. In old world European wineries, the vines are hundreds of years old with the perfect soil and climate to cultivate the species of grapes renown to that region.
The traditions of this family run thicker than blood or wine. Each member of the family in their respective fields, Israel assists in the winemaking operations, Kami is in charge of the finances as the CFO, Gilad is the CEO who oversees the entire operation, Golan is the head winemaker and Gefen takes care of the marketing as the brand manager. In 2010, Flam Winery, located in the Judean Hills, became kosher certified and began exporting their European style Israeli wines all around the world.
Looking ahead to the future for the Flam winery, we look at the past and continue building on the foundations established by European styled wineries. Six hundred acres of new vines have been planted in the Even Sapir region stretching from the Judean hills to the mountains of Jerusalem and are in the works for the next several years. We will also be seeing a new premium oaked white wine in the near future named Camellia.
The winery itself is located in Eshtaol has vineyards surrounding a beautiful decked-in area which is perfect for a picnic or small reception. Flam has offerings for every palate. The wines are lush and balanced with the perfect amounts of acidity and structure. It takes many years to grow quality grapevines and create excellent wines, and finally after nearly 20 years in 2008, the flagship wine Flam Noble was born. Noble 2013 made history when the most well-known wine critics in the world rated the wine as good as or better than some of the most prestigious wines of Bordeaux. The Flam Noble is a wine with an Israeli heart and a noble spirit much like the Flam family. L’chaim!