By Moshe Kinderlehrer
Eli Ben-Zaken, left, of Domaine du Castel points out to the author where his wineries are located
from the back deck of the Castel headquarters in central Israel.
It gives me much pride and pleasure to present our third annual Jewish Link Wine Guide. This year’s guide, once again, is a true labor of love and passion project for our senior editors and judges, and it gives me tremendous joy for our publication to play an important role in supporting the kosher wine industry and its most passionate innovators. The guide this year is jam-packed with information about the many amazing things going on in the kosher wine industry, with new wines, new wineries, new faces, new techniques and approaches to winemaking, all featured in these pages. This year also represents a return to travel for myself and for our writers. Although I am not, yet, a full-fledged
oenophile, nor will I likely serve as a wine judge anytime soon, I will say that I have learned a tremendous amount about wine over the past few years, and certainly learned a lot about the business side of kosher wine. While I have met and spoken with many winery owners, vintners, viticulturists,
distributors and a négociant or two, as well as many educated wine aficionados over the years attending Kosherfest, KFWE and other kosher food and wine events, I had never visited a winery for tachlis purposes as the publisher of The Jewish Link Wine Guide until this past January, in Israel over yeshiva break. While there, I joined our Editor Elizabeth Kratz on a full day of visiting three wineries: Teperberg, Domaine du Castel and Tzuba. Elizabeth writes about her visits to these wineries and many more within these pages, and it’s a great read.
For me, my day trip was an incredible experience and each winery had its own charm and appeal. At Domaine du Castel, we met and spent time with its founder, Eli Ben-Zaken, who gave us a personal tour of all that he has built, and where I learned that he was the main owner of the famous Mama Mia’s dairy restaurant that anyone who visited Jerusalem in the 70s/80s/90s will remember. Small world. It was easy to hear the pride in his voice and see in how he carried himself as the founder while he gave us the winery tour and showed us his accomplishments of the past few decades. Of course, we tasted many of his wines as well.
At Teperberg, one of Israel’s largest wineries, we had a chance to see their sophisticated and gleaming
modern plant and the chance to be the first-ever guests of winemaker Dani Friedenberg in Teperberg’s
brand-new visitor center. It was quite impressive and befitting for Israel’s third-largest winery. I was also deeply impressed by how seriously the mashgiach took his job in following us around to make sure that we weren’t getting too close to the barrels and pipes, or touching anything.
And at Tzuba, our final stop, we enjoyed the incredible views of this boutique winery on a Judean
mountaintop and had a great conversation with the manager there. I tried paying attention to all of the
discussions about taste, terroir, body and fragrance, and I believe I am on the way to finally beginning to understand what it is that I don’t know. And upon my return to the U.S., my wife made me promise that I would take her to some of these wineries, so it looks like winery visits will be part of any future travels in Israel.
With that said, we hope that you enjoy this year’s Wine Guide and that you will use it in good health to help guide your Pesach and seudat mitzvah shopping. And may this year continue to be one of goodness, prosperity and simcha.
Chag Kasher V’Sameach!