Celebrating the Rich Tradition of Jewish Winemaking
Even the most seasoned wine expert, who can truly tell you the taste difference between a petit verdot and a petit syrah, may not realize that aspects of Sonoma Valley’s wine culture can actually be traced back to one of the most famous winemakers of all time - Noah of Biblical Ark fame. Legend has it that Noah was the first to till the soil after the Great Flood, planting a resplendent vineyard where he “drank of wine.”
Fast forward five thousand years later, as other famous followers of the Jewish faith, San Francisco grocers Emmanuel Goldstein and Bernard Dreyfus, begin clearing fertile land to plant the famous Monte Rosso vineyards perched high on the oak-covered slopes above Agua Caliente, just north of the Sonoma Square. That was way back in the 1880s. Today, Sonoma and Napa counties are rich with Jewish winemakers, who were celebrated recently at a wine and nosh tasting at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building.
The second-annual event, presented by the Congregation Shir Shalom, highlighted some of the best winemakers to be found in the two rival Valleys, including BR Cohn, Fitchenberg Vineyards, Leto Cellars, Tres Hijas Vineyards, Longboard Vineyards, Stein Family Vineyards, Zmor and many more.
Attendees drank in more than just wine. They were treated to traditional Jewish fare such as knishes, latke and reuben sandwiches, all served with beaming pride by the buzzing members of the Congregation.
“This is really much more than just a wine tasting,” said organizer Avram Goldman. “It is about introducing people to Jewish culture, and how we celebrate life through wine, food and song.”
The Valley’s close-knit Jewish community reveled in the focus placed on their faith during the festive afternoon. Hagafen Cellars of Napa was anxious to have you try their certified kosher wines, suitable for Passover celebrations. A spry senior plied you with rich kugel or fragrant bagels and lox. Hearty greetings were made in Hebrew. All the while, music danced in the background, pulling you into the passionate life of the Jewish winemaker.
The Accidental Vinophile is Dave Karraker, a comedian and writer who splits his time between Sonoma, San Francisco, his two Rhodesian Ridgebacks and 61 Ford Thunderbirds. You can find more on Dave at www.davekarraker.com. Email email@example.com. Follow Dave on Twitter: @davekarraker.