We started producing Kosher wines in 2004. Phil had known about them for many years and had been following the trends. During the previous ten years there had been a movement by some Kosher wine producers into the fine wine market. Prior to that Kosher wines had been on the sweeter side and not of the best quality. Kosher wine production require a firm understand of kosher rules and a bit of knowledge of the Jewish culture.
Many of the techniques that must be used are for reasons deeply respected by the Jewish people. Much of it would not make any sense to non-Jewish winemakers. What you can and cannot do is strictly controlled by the person supervising the wine making. For us this supervision is supplied in two ways. By an observant Jewish person familiar with wine making processes and the traditional requirements of the Jewish people. Also by the Orthodox Union which certifies and inspects kosher production facilities.
Although we are the experts in the wine making process we, not being Jewish, are not allowed to do the actual wine making ie. Operating the equipment, taking samples, etc. We supervise our Jewish workers but we must not handle the equipment. The grapes may be picked by anyone.
It is a very challenging job but one that is full of meaning at the end. We enjoy making these wines and working with a group of people that are lucky to have such a deep and interesting culture. Is kosher wine any good? In the past it used to be over-sweet or with off characters. Now any well-made kosher wine will be as good as or better than its non-kosher counterpart.
The origins of kosher wines.
It goes back a few thousand years.For Wine it was to ensure a wine had not been used for idolatrous purposes – by pagan worshipers placating their own gods with offerings, for example. Making sure only a Sabbath-observant Jew had touched the wine was one way of doing this.
Mevushal literally means “cooked”. In the past the wines would be boiled but now they are flash pasteurized, which is gentler on the wine. With white wines the juice is flash pasteurized prior to ferment. Research has shown it can have positive effects on aromatic whites. Reds are flash pasteurized at bottling and with our wines we see little effect on the wines character other than possibly aging it slightly. A mevushal wine remains kosher even if touched by a gentile.
How can you tell kosher wines?
Most wineries that make kosher wines have an exclusive label only used for these wines. Ours is the Goose Bay label. The Union of Orthodox Rabbis (OU), which certifies some half a million different brands of food and wine from around the world also certifies our wines and their symbol is on the label. As our wines are mevushal it states it on the label and a small P also shows it is kosher for Passover.
Why are kosher wines more expensive?
They are expensive to make due to the certification and the observant Jewish crew we need to use for all aspects of the wine making.