The Hans Sternbach Vineyard is the materialization of a dream about an agricultural touristic complex
The vineyard is situated in Gadi Sternbach and Shula Yefet’s farm at the village of Giv`at- Yesha`ayahu in the district of ‘Adulam.
It consists of a sustainable vineyard, winery and restaurant, adjacent to the house leis the organic vegetable & fruit garden- that provides most of the produce to the restaurant.
The vineyard, named after Gadi’s father, is about one mile away from the farmyard and the winery.
Gadi and Shula are long time members of “Slow Food”. Hence we try to keep the following ideals-
The vineyard is organically fertil Spraying and artificial irrigation are minimal.
The grapes grow close to the winery and the wine is made without biochemical manipulations.
The cuisine is local, prefers local products and uses, as much as possible, wild plants and crops of the restaurant’s garden.
The employees are fairly treated and decently paid
The Judean Foot-hills
Is a geographical region, situated between the Judean Highlands and the Judean Lowlands (the gradual descent towards the Coastal Plain). Its elevation is 250-460 m.
The typical landscape consists of rounded hills, made of soft Eocenean chalk, covered widely by a hard, calcareous duricrust, known locally as “Nari”.
On slopes, that are not Nari covered, the soil is a light-colored Rendzina’ abundant in lime. At places the Nari is covered with a shallow “Terra rossa”-like soil.
Between the hills wind intermittent river valleys, with wide valley floors, covered by brown, well‑leached alluvial Rendzina soils, perfect for cultivation.
The typical vegetation of the Foot-hills is a Mediterranean maquis.
Precipitation in the region decreases from north to south. Consequently the vegetation thins out and the plant community changes gradually from Quercus calliprinos & Pistacia palaestina to Ceratonia siliqua & Pistacia lentiscus.
Until 1948 the region was densely populated and cultivated. it suffered high grazing and wood cutting pressures, making it almost devoid of any perennial wild vegetation.
In the 1950’s wide uncultivated areas were afforested by the JNF (with mostly Pinus halepensis and Ceratonia siliqua). On slopes, that were not afforested, the wild vegetation emerged and gradually developed into a dense and rich Mediterranean maquis.
Like all over Israel, the wild fauna is damaged. One can however still encounter wild boar, gazelles, porcupines, hares, partridges, cattle egrets, stone curlews, spur-winged lapwings and many song birds. There are lots of jackals and ichneumon mongooses and very rare wolves and hyenas. There are lots of kestrels and short-toed eagles and rare other raptors.
The region is poor on perennial water sources but its impermeable chalk makes it possible to dig useful cisterns without plaster. Due to this and to its wide arable areas, it has been populated since early times.
Already during the Bronze age there formed in the Foot-hills large fortified cities, like Lakhish, ‘Azeqa, Jarmuth and Beth-shemesh. Some of them are mentioned in the Egyptian “Execration texts” (20-18 cent. B.C.).
The Nari covered soft chalk enabled the digging of extensive underground structures. These were used as quarries, as cisterns, as dove cots & animal houses, as wineries & oil presses, and as storage rooms & workshops. As digging tools improved during the Iron-age, so proliferated and grew the underground structures.
In the beginning of the Iron-age the Foot-hills were the arena of a struggle between Israelites, Canaanites, and Philistines. Its ended with the region being ruled by the Judean kingdom. After the fall of the kingdom the region was populated by Edomites migrating from the south. After the Alexandrian conquest their urban population was largely Hellenized, while the rural part came close to Judaism. The Hasmoneans converted all of them to Judaism.
The region was active in the Great Revolt and played an important role in the Bar-Kokhba revolt. The inhabitants blocked the entrances to the underground structures of a village and dug between them an intricate system of narrow tunnels with hidden exits.
In the souterrains they stored food, water and arms. During the days they acted as peaceful farmers working their land. At night they armed and attacked the Romans.
After the revolt was suppressed, the region was largely depopulated. Habitation restarted and grew, until in Byzantine times the area was densely inhabited by hundreds of small, mostly Christian, villages. It produced large quantities of olive oil, wine and grain.
This population continued into the Early-Arab period and gradually became Islamized.
The Crusaders brought an end to this old civilization and the area was emptied of its inhabitants.
The renewed habitation of the Foothills, after the ousting of the Crusaders, was characterized by a much smaller number of much larger agricultural villages. It continued to grow and to develop until its end in the 1948 war.
After the war, there were established in the area a number of Collective & cooperative villages, as well as villages and transitory camps for new immigrants. During the 1950s, the Hartuv transitory camp became the new immigrant city of Beit Shemesh. In the second half of the 1950s, as part of the ‘Adulam region settlement plan’, the area was reinforced with more villages and regional centers.