For the first time, the grand prize at Italy's leading international wine competition has been awarded to an Israeli winery. The Golan Heights Winery, founded in 1983 in Katzrin, beat out 3,720 wines from from more than 1,000 producers in 30 countries to take home the so-called "Wine World Cup" -- the Gran Vinitaly Special Award granted ahead of Italy's annual Vinitaly wine trade fair in Verona, one of Europe's top wine events, which opens Friday.
California's newest and largest kosher winemaking facility boasts the longest history.
Last week, the Baron Herzog Winery debuted its 77,000-square-foot winery in Oxnard. The label dates back to 1848, when the Herzog family established an operation in the small Slovakian village of Vrobove. Philip Herzog produced an off-dry Riesling favored by Franz-Josef, the Austrian emperor, who established the winery as his sole supplier and knighted the family patriarch with the title "Baron." In the 1930s, his grandson, Eugene Herzog, watched the Nazis, and, later, the communists take over the winery. When he finally sailed with his family to New York, he arrived in 1948 with more children (six) than dollars. He began working for the Royal Wine Co. as truck driver, sales manager and winemaker. To supplement his meager income, the company paid him in stock. He eventually became a majority stockholder and bought the company in 1958.
Fruity, oaky and sugary; I taste blackberries, vanilla and sugar, lots of sugar; full-bodied, strong finish, and very sweet; horrible and, yet again, very sweet. That was the kosher wine tasting of yesteryear.
Bruce Cantz grew up in the San Fernando Valley, where he had a good Conservative upbringing and was bar mitzvahed at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino.
Now a baal teshuvah (returned to Judaism) who goes by his Hebrew name of Benyamin, Cantz, 54, lives on top of a remote mountain in Santa Cruz, where he runs Four Gates, the country's only organic kosher winery and the smallest, kosher winery in California.