August 4, 2021

Joe Zanotti Discusses the Wines of Israel

Joe Zanotti

Joe Zanotti

Joe Zanotti likes a nice glass of wine. With typically 40-50 bottles of wine in his Pittsburgh-area basement at all times, Joe Zanotti believes he is a decent judge of wine, even though he wouldn’t consider himself a connoisseur.

During a work trip to Israel in 2010, Joe Zanotti had his first taste of a great Israeli wine. Until this time, his experience with Israeli wines was limited to the sweet Mogen David wines. But he was seeing Cabernets, Merlots, and even some other white wines, all produced in Israel. Pittsburgh native Joe Zanotti had previously found Israeli wines too sweet, so he was expecting to find that in the Cabernet he tried. Instead, he was surprised to find a wine as good as, if not better than, the wines of Napa or Sonoma.

Joe Zanotti learned all of this while dining in a café in Tel Aviv. While looking at the menu, Joe Zanotti was surprised by the wine list. The selection was greater than he’d expected. Maybe he’d underestimated Israel, he realized.

While delving more deeply into the Israeli culture, Joe Zanotti learned a great deal more about Israeli wines. A colleague informed Pittsburgh resident Joe Zanotti that much of Israel is similar in environment to the coastline of California, where the great wines of the States are produced. With hot, dry days and cool nights, the arid sandy desert lands of Israel situated along the Mediterranean Sea are very conducive for growing grapes and creating perfect wines Joe Zanotti explains.

Once a year, Israel hosts the Israel Museum Wine Festival in Jerusalem, according to Joe Zanotti. This celebration and wine tasting attracts wine lovers from all over Israel, as the Pittsburgh native learned during his travels. Israeli wine is big business, notes Joe Zanotti.

In fact, others have recognized the great wines of Israel, Joe Zanotti learned. Several of Israel’s wineries have won international awards. Vineyards are concentrated mostly in the northern parts of the country, Joe Zanotti says, with the Golan Heights releasing more than six million bottles a year. Vineyards in the Golan Heights produce Joe Zanotti’s favorite wine, he says, called Yarden wines. Pittsburgh native Joe Zanotti says his other favorites include wines by Castel, Carmel Winery, and Ella Valley.

About Joe Zanotti

For Joe Zanotti, family heritage has always been important. Growing up in Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Joe Zanotti was always aware of his Italian and Slovak heritage enjoying the culture, foods and curtoms. In fact, he spent many weekends and long summer weeks at his grandparents’ house in the nearby mill town of Braeburn.

Joe Zanotti has lived in Pennsylvania most of his life, mostly near Pittsburgh. After graduating from Burrell Senior High School, Joe Zanotti attended the Pennsylvania State University, where he majored in civil engineering. During college, he was an invited member of both the Chi Epsilon Honorary Society and Tau Beta Pi Honorary Society, both national engineering societies for honors students. Joe Zanotti attended graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied structural engineering.

An experienced structural engineer with more than 31 years in the field, Joe Zanotti often travels throughout the USA and overseas for work. Joe Zanotti is currently employed by Camp, Dresser, & McKee, Inc., a worldwide engineering firm based in Pittsburgh. Joe Zanotti’s work often stations him in many Asian countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam and in Middle-East countries such as Israel.  He considers working overseas, such as when he helped rebuild a Catholic church in tsunami-damaged Banda Aceh, Indonesia, an experience that has been life changing.

Prior to Camp, Dresser, & McKee, Joe Zanotti was project design manager for MPS Corporation in Leetsdale. He worked as a structural engineer for Sargent & Lundy Engineers in Chicago, as well as Dravo Engineers in Pittsburgh. His professional associations include the American Society of Civil Engineers, International Concrete Repair Institute, for which he serves on the board of directors, and American Concrete Institute, for which he is a subcommittee member on the national level.

An avid golfer, Joe Zanotti has had the privilege of golfing everywhere from overseas in Asia to many top courses in the USA. Joe Zanotti began golfing at the age of fifteen, at a tiny 9-hole course near his house where greens fees were only $3-$4 a day.  For years, he was part of an annual golf retreat comprised mostly of former Pennsylvania State graduates. Joe Zanotti is an avid cook and would maybe enjoy attending chef school when retired. He is a lover of great wine and while he wouldn’t consider himself a connoisseur, Joe Zanotti keeps 40-50 bottles of wine in his basement at all times.

Born in 1958, Joe Zanotti currently resides in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, where he has lived since 1988. Joe Zanotti is registered as a professional engineer in eleven states, including Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Indiana, and the District of Columbia. He is single, with no children, has a brother, sister, nieces and a nephew and both of his parents are still alive.


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