With the holiday season upon us, Wine Curations would like to help everyone find wines for the different holiday gatherings they may be attending this year. We have Hanukkah starting on December 10 through December 18. Then, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be December 24th and 25th. Finally, we will be celebrating the arrival of 2021 on December 31 and January 1. There are a lot of festivities to look forward to!
For this article, we are going to delve a little deeper into kosher wine and give some recommendations for kosher wineries to keep an eye out for.
First, kosher wine is made with the same winemaking steps as non-kosher wines. The difference is that there is a rabbinical oversight in the process. The wine is handled by Sabbath-observant Jews from grape crushing to being bottled. Any of the ingredients used, such as yeasts and fining agents, must be kosher.
According to the Wine Industry Advisor, the number of kosher wine producers has increased dramatically over the past 10 to 20 years. The increased demand in kosher wine has prompted many countries, such as, South Africa, Chile and Canada to start producing sophisticated kosher wines. In addition, the traditional kosher wine sources of Israel, France, California, Spain and Italy have increased. The increase has come from both fully kosher wineries starting and then well-known wineries all over the world are starting to craft special runs of kosher wines under rabbinical oversight.
Another interesting fact to keep in mind, is that not all Israeli wines are kosher. Only about 30% of Israeli wine brands are kosher. However, they produce 90% of the Israeli wine industry’s output.
“When it comes to taste, there’s no difference between kosher and non-kosher wine,” says Jay Buchsbaum, Executive VP Marketing and Director of Wine Education at Royal Wine Corp. — the top kosher wine purveyor in America. “In fact, many kosher wines are award winning – beating out their non-kosher competitors for top varietal prizes, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and rosés as well.
If you were only familiar with Manishewitz before, then this is great news to hear that there are so many top awarded wines out there now. Manishewitz was one of the earlier and largest producers of kosher wine. They did a great job at making kosher wine affordable and accessible when there were very little options. Their wines are made in New York state and tend to be sweet. If you are wanting to pair with your holiday meals, you will want to stick to drier styles and keep the sweeter ones for after dinner.
Hagafen Cellars is located in Napa Valley. It was the first kosher winery in California and is considered to be the first of the upscale kosher brands. Hagafen Wines have been served at the White House many times over the years. It was first served at a White House State Dinner held by President Reagan in 1981. In 2010, President Barack Obama served Hagafen Sparkling Wine as the only alcoholic beverage at the annual White House Hanukkah dinner.
Herzog Wine Cellars is located just south of Santa Barbara. The winery started out over 100 years ago in Slovakia and Philip Herzog made wine for the Austro-Hungarian court. The wine company was handed down through family and in 1985, the Herzog family decided to expand their winemaking operations to Oxnard, California.
Domaine du Castel is located in the Judean Hills of Isreal. The family run winery produced its first wine in 1992. A journalist friend sent a bottle to Sothebys in London and it was met with great respect. Since then, the winery has gained many 90+ rankings for its wines.
Recanati Winery was established in 2000 in Israel’s Hefer Valley. Lenny Recanati’s ancestors had lived in Italy for centuries and had passed down the knowledge and love of wine to him. Before starting the winery, Lenny was known for having one of the finest private wine collections in Israel.
Yatir Winery was founded in 2000 in the Judean Hills region of Israel. This exclusive boutique winery is a joint venture between local vine growers and Carmel Winery, who recognized the potential of the Yatir region. Its wines, which have been repeatedly awarded with high scores, exceptional recognition and medals, have been rated in recent years among Israel’s top wines by local as well as international wine critics.
Terra di Seti is located in Tuscany, Italy and was started in 2001. This winery was the first fully kosher winery in Italy. It is still the only kosher estate winery which means the grapes all come from the estates own vineyards and are not purchased from separate grape growers. Many wineries around the world use a combination of both. Another plus of Terra di Seti is that it that their wines are also organic.
While there is not an entirely kosher champagne house in France, there are a couple of famous champagne houses that produce kosher versions of their wines. Both Drappier and Laurent Perrier offer these. This is also true of other popular regions in France where you can find kosher wine options from popular non-Kosher wineries.
If you are interested in any of these wineries or other kosher brands, please reach out to Wine Curations for assistance in securing.