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Hakarat HaTov Awards

This year, the Jewish Link Wine Guide welcomed a sea of kosher wine vendors to its very first Grand Tasting event, hosted at Factory220 in Passaic on February 27. Hundreds of attendees got to try a spectacular array of wines, many of which are featured in this magazine, but they also got the chance to meet the winemakers behind the bottles. Many Israeli winemakers made the effort to travel to the States, taking time away from the pressures of home, to show that the heart of Israel’s wine industry is still beating strong, despite significant hardships due to the ongoing war.

To express our gratitude to the Israel winemakers at our Grand Tasting, The Jewish Link team presented them with “Hakarat HaTov” awards, thanking them for their efforts in keeping the Israeli kosher wine industry afloat during these tumultuous times. Many of them discussed the challenges they’ve faced and the devastation they’ve seen since October 7, sharing how their lives have been impacted by the war. All of them stressed that the best way to help right now is to “buy Israeli wine.”

While not all winemakers were present to receive their awards, we did our best to thank those who came from Israel for our tasting. Particular thanks to Ya’acov Bris of La Forêt Blanche and Hillel Manne of Beit El Winery, who were also present but are not pictured.

Ya'acov Oryah Wines:

Ya'acov Oryah

Owner and winemaker

Ya'acov Oryah began producing wines in 2004, and it has since become his life’s passion, taking pride in the unique varietals he produces at his vineyard in the Negev. Like everyone Oryah's, family has not been untouched by the ongoing war. The stress of some of his children evacuating their homes and some luckily escaping the horror of Oct 7, lives hand in hand with the imperative to carry on day to day life. With hope for quieter days Oryah, continues crafting wines in his trademark style, nine of which have placed in our rankings this year.

Ya'acov Oryah receiving his Hakarat HaTov award from The Jewish Link’s Elizabeth Kratz and Moshe Kinderlehrer

Shiran Winery:

Eli Shiran

Owner and winemaker

Eli Shiran is the founder of Shiran Winery, working mostly by himself out of a warehouse in Kiryat Arba. Shiran produces approximately 10,000 bottles of wine per year, and is well known for its unique and special blends that are not found at any other winery. Several of Shiran’s wines have placed in this year’s rankings, continuing his tradition of rightful recognition for his craft.

Shiran’s children, both sons and sons-in-law, are all serving in the army in various capacities since the outbreak of the war—he tragically suffered the loss of his nephew, Ori Shani, HY”D, on October 7.

Elizabeth Kratz with Eli Shiran of Shiran Winery, Moshe Kinderlehrer and Elan Kornblum of Great Kosher Restaurant Foodies

Yaffo Winery:

Stephan Celniker

Chief winemaker

Yaffo Winery was founded by Moshe and Anne Marie Celniker, and is located in the famed Ella Valley, also known as the “Israeli Tuscany” region. Their son, Stephan, serves as chief winemaker and oversees the production of 70,000 bottles of wine per year, taking a “new world” outlook and leaning toward friendly, approachable wines. Yaffo Winery has earned the distinction of Winery of the Year in the Jewish Link Wine Guide for two years in a row due to solid rankings across the board. We thank Sophie Celniker, Stephen’s sister, who works in marketing for the winery, for joining us as well.

Jaffa Winery’s brother-sister team Stephan and Sophie Celniker (center) with Elizabeth Kratz and Moshe Kinderlehrer

Shiloh Winery:

Amichai Lurie

Winemaker Shiloh Winery emulates its tagline, “Ancient Roots, Modern Winery” by integrating biblical wine traditions since its inception in 2005. Shiloh selects the best grapes from the Samarian Hills region and uses state-of-the-art technology to create outstanding wines. Shiloh has been a mainstay of our rankings since the inception of the magazine, a testament to their exceptional quality.

Shiloh Winery’s Amichai Lurie, receiving his Hakarat HaTov award from The Jewish Link team

Dalton Winery:

Alex Haruni and Guy Eshel

Alex Haruni, CEO and owner of Dalton Winery, as well as Guy Eshel, Dalton’s chief winemaker, were at the Grand Tasting as well, and we thank them for their attendance and for contributing to the event’s success.

We also welcomed them to the Jewish Link’s Pitch Meeting Podcast, where Haruni shared: “Demand [for wine] in Israel has fallen, because half the country’s men and women are on the front lines. If the community abroad wants to help us, the best way is to buy Israeli products and put Israeli wines on the table. We want the trade; we don’t want the pity. We’re doing our jobs every single day and we want to work … that’s really important. Keep it going and drink Israeli wines.”

Alex Haruni and Guy Eshel of Dalton Winery

Editor's note: Thanks to Channa Fischer for compiling this section.


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