Monday, December 14, 2009

Kosher Wineries in the Napa Valley

Recently I took some folks on tour who wanted to visit kosher wineries in the Napa Valley. It turns out that there are just two: Hagafen Cellars and Covenant Wines. The two offer contrasting winetasting experiences and have different winemaking philosophies.

Hagafen has a tasting room on the Silverado Trail that is open to the public for drop-in tasting. With an advance appointment, you can take a nice tour of the winery at 11:00 a.m. You'll learn about the winemaking process as well as some of the unique challenges in making kosher wine. Hagafen produces an array of white and red wines and even a little bubbly, many of which you can taste during your visit.

Covenant is a very small producer of Cabernet Sauvignon, and tastings are by appointment only. Since the wine is made in the facilities of a larger winery, your tasting is likely to occur in winemaker Jeff Morgan's home. Jeff and/or his wife, Jodie, will spend about an hour with you teaching you how to get the most out of winetasting and walking you through Covenant's current releases of Covenant and Red C. Jeff may also surprise you with one or two other wines. Even if you are not seeking kosher wine, you'll enjoy your time with Jeff and Jodie.

Hagafen is a much larger producer than Covenant and some of its wine is served in restaurants and at public functions, e.g. at the White House. One of the things that makes wine Kosher is that it is not handled by people who do not observe the Jewish Sabbath when the juice or wine is transferred from one container to another. Therefore, if a non-observant person were to pour kosher wine into your glass at a restaurant or function, the wine would immediately become non-kosher. An exception to this requirement is that boiled wine can be handled by persons who do not observe the Sabbath. Therefore, Hagafen puts its wine through a flash pasteurization process so the wine can be poured by those who are non-observant and the wine will remain kosher.

Covenant is much smaller and sells most of its wine directly to consumers. Therefore, it follows all of the kosher rules but does not boil (flash pasteurize) its wine. This is because most of Covenant's wine is served by the people who purchase the wine to themselves, friends, and family. Therefore, if the purchaser observes the Sabbath, the wine will remain kosher when he/she pours it into the glass.

One side note, I am far from an expert on kosher laws. Therefore, please accept my apologies if my descriptions in the previous two paragraphs are not 100% accurate.

If you would like to take a private Napa Valley tour that includes visits to Hagafen Cellars and/or Covenant Wines, please feel free to contact Blue Heron Custom Tours at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

7 comments:

Hampers said...

Nice blog. Glad to know about the Kosher Wineries in the Napa Valley. I have never tasted their wine. I like the wine from France,their varieties, history and regions; Bordeaux, Champagne, Alsace and more.

Anonymous said...

I'm on my way to Napa Valley right now and so glad to know about the Kosher winery. We didnt call to reserv any thing but I hope we'll be able to catch the tour. Thank you for sharing. Www.tomerperetz.com

Callipygian said...

Exactly the info I was looking for, found you as the very first hit with a Google search for "kosher napa wine". It was informative as well, I didn't know about the person pouring. Thanks!

Ariel Notcovich said...

How do I find Jeff and Joody? Can I get their contact information?

Rick said...
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Rick said...
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Rick said...

Covenant Wines' contact information is on the website, www.covenantwines.com.