Alex Haruni isn’t much into high-tech and corporate buzzwords, but he certainly does know his Chardonnays, Zinfandels and Petit Sirahs. The family business he runs, Dalton Winery, is today one of Israel’s top vintners — and prides itself as an industry pioneer in the Upper Galilee.
Haruni, 51, is of Persian background. He emigrated to Israel from London in 1991; four years later, his father, Matatia Haruni, founded the winery just outside Moshav Kerem Ben Zimra, near the town of Zefat.
Named after the Dalton Industrial Park in which it’s located, Haruni’s company started small and has gradually built a name for itself. The company employs 23 people directly, and many more farmers indirectly, and manages 1,200 dunams of vineyards throughout the Galilee and elsewhere.
Haruni had been a mentor at Gvahim for many years when he gradually realized that the mentoring was too focused on the high-tech corporate world.
“It wasn’t a good fit for me, because it was all about corporate placements, which was something I wasn’t familiar with, and I had a small business,” he said. “I told them I’d be happy to give more of my time, but that we should do something for people who wanted to establish small businesses in Israel but not work for a big multinational.”
So began TheNest program, and Haruni is now on its steering committee.
Today, Dalton ranks among Israel’s top 15 wineries, which together make about 90 percent of the wine consumed domestically. Dalton alone produces about one million bottles a year — up from only 30,000 in 1995, its first year of business. About 30 percent of Dalton’s total output is exported to Europe and other markets.
Israelis enjoy the rest here at home, about a third of it during Pesach. Another 20 percent of Dalton’s production is sold at Rosh Hashana — a holiday that for the Haruni family was always particularly special.
“Many families will have apple and honey at their Rosh Hashana table,” he told us, “but Sephardim have a whole tradition of symbolic foods that we eat — beans, leeks, fish heads, pomegranates and a new fruit for the new year.
Haruni’s wish for 5778? “That we should have a plentiful new year full of good deeds and mitzvot, that we move into a new year of peace and serenity.”
by Larry Luxner, journalist and contributing editor of GV MAG