Wines of Jewish Origin to Toast the Season ~ Happy Hanukkah

Giving you time to prepare ~

‘Tis the season to celebrate heritage, and what better way for the days of Hanukkah than to enjoy it with a glass of wine produced by someone of this culture?

If this is not your cultural heritage, you’re still invited to toast the season on behalf of your Jewish relatives and/or friends. Personally, I have had three people of Jewish heritage enter my family through marriage, and each one is very dear and has added something very substantive to my life. This is a special time of year when our cultures intermingle, so I can’t help but reflect on everyone’s joys of this month of seasonal and ethnic celebrations.

There’s always so much ado about Christmas that other cultures seem to take a back seat to the marketing of Santa Claus, Black Friday shopping, and everything tied up with a red velvet bow. (This almost makes me wonder if it’s we who were born to Christian families that are by nature conspicuous consumers, and that’s what drives Madison Avenue? Hum…)

With Hanukkah beginning at sunset on Tuesday, December 20, 2011, and ending at sunset on Wednesday, December 28, 2011, I continue to think about my Jewish family and friends, and will be toasting them…

The following is short list of wines produced by Jewish vintners in California, and it’s time for me to purchase at least one bottle to celebrate these magical days.

The world list is daunting, so I’m providing a link for those who are curious to see how much wine is produced by Jewish vintners.

The list of California vintners that I’ve gathered (with the help of others) over the years:

  1. 7 Artisans
  2. Abban Vineyards – John Alban
  3. Bighorn Cellars – Dick Wollack
  4. Bonny Doon Vineyard – Randall Grahm
  5. Calix
  6. Carelia-Kaplan Cellars
  7. Cliff Lede – Michelle Edwards (winemaker)
  8. Clos Pegase – Jan Shrem
  9. Coho
  10. Cote Rose
  11. Covenant Kosher Wines
  12. Diamond Creek – the late Al Brounstein and his wife Boots
  13. Don Ernesto
  14. Eagle & Rose
  15. Edge Hill Estate – Leslie Rudd
  16. Emilio’s Terrace – Phil Schlein (owner)
  17. Frank Family Vineyards – Rich Frank
  18. Gemstone Vineyard
  19. Hagafen Wines
  20. Hall Wines
  21. Harlan – Bob Levy
  22. Herzog Wine Cellars
  23. Honig Vineyard & Winery
  24. Howell At The Moon
  25. Jaffe Estate
  26. JC Cellars
  27. Joseph Zakon Winery and Kesser Wine
  28. Judd’s Hill
  29. Krupp Brothers Estate
  30. Lieff Winery
  31. Longboard Wines – winemaker Oded Shaked
  32. Match Vineyard
  33. Matthiasson
  34. Neiman Cellars
  35. Prix Vineyards
  36. Rashi Clara
  37. Reverie Vineyard and Winery
  38. Rock Creek Vineyard
  39. Rock Wall Wine Company
  40. Rudd Vineyards & Winery
  41. Ruston Family Vineyards
  42. Sara Bec
  43. Selene Wines – Mia Klein
  44. Silver Oak
  45. Sola Rosa
  46. Spring Mountain Vineyard
  47. Sly Dog Cellars
  48. Talbas Creek
  49. Water Mark
  50. Weinstock Cellars
  51. Z-Mor

Happy Hanukkah to you and yours!

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19 Responses to “Wines of Jewish Origin to Toast the Season ~ Happy Hanukkah”

  1. Sondra says:

    Who would have thought there were so many Jewish winemakers – and then of course, there are all those in Israel. So do all of these make kosher wine or are they winemakers who are Jewish? Ernie Weir is the owner-winemaker at Hagafen – some of their wines are kosher, maybe all, I’m not sure. To be kosher, the wine has to be made by someone who honors the sabbath, not sure what else is required.

    So now when the 8 days of Chanukah start on Dec. 20, we can enjoy a wine everyday made by someone of a Jewish heritage. We can celebrate the light of life and potato pancakes with any juicy wine.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    These are Jewish winemakers. The list of Kosher is very limited, and perhaps I should even expand this at some point to include that section.

    I’m so pleased that you see the potential, Sondra!

  3. Loweeel says:

    Chaim Gur-Aryeh, the man behind C.G. DiArie, is from a Jewish-Israeli background as well. And, even better, the man makes a pretty good PS!

  4. Loweeel says:

    Is Larry Schaffer (Tercero/Epiphany) Jewish?

  5. P. Lou says:

    What’s the point, exactly, of listing winemakers by their supposed religious affiliation?

    Are you following up at Xmas with a list of the Christians, and at Chinese New Year the list of Buddhists…and so on throughout the year?

    “With Hanukah already underway…”? It doesn’t begin for several days. Unlike “the Christmas season,” it is NOT “underway” at all.

    And the random stock photo of people at a dinner table…?

    The whole post was bewildering.

  6. Jo Diaz says:


    1) You’re right, it’s not underway yet. Thanks for the edit. This is a list I’ve had for a few years, with updating it as I go along. I’ll fix that.

    2) The point? Read Sondra Barrett’s comments. She’s said it all.

    3) Sorry to have upset you. That wasn’t my intent.

  7. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks, and awesome.

  8. Jo Diaz says:

    Not sure. I can find out 😉

  9. xrs says:

    Weird. I’ve worked with two of the individuals on this list and they are not, in fact, Jewish. Admittedly, Rosenblum IS a Jewish name, but I wonder how this list was compiled. Is the only criteria that the winery owners have last names that SOUND Jewish?

  10. Jo Diaz says:


    Good one. Now that you mention it, this was compiled years ago before Kent sold to Diagio, so I’m removing that one ASAP. If you want to share the other, I’ll remove it also. When it was compiled, it came from good sources. As we all know, things change rapidly in the wine business, and I’m open to edits.

  11. gdfo says:

    Good post. There are 2 different version of kosher wine. I forgot what the names are. One is very strict though.

    I do believe their are some good kosher wines coming from Spain also.

  12. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks for your contribution, Greg. Next year, I’ll go into detail about the two different versions.

  13. Sondra says:

    I had to follow up on some of your readers comments – why Jewish winemakers – maybe because they are rare compared to Christian. Rarer still Muslim winemakers – we can certainly celebrate different traditions and their winemakers. I remembered that there is actually a Jewish winemakers group – this is an event they put on in October http://www.sonomanews.com/News-2011/Celebrating-the-Rich-Tradition-of-Jewish-Winemaking/

    And i guess we should distinguish between winemaker and wine owner. One winery name left out – BR Cohn.

    Are there any Buddhist winemakers?

  14. Jo Diaz says:


    I also had a friend send this link to me: http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/30316/grape-expectations/

    I’m sure there are Buddhist winemakers, and count me in as wanting to know who they are, too, along with Muslim.

    It has been my life experience that the more I know others for the diversity that they bring to my life, the more well rounded I have become.

    Worst case scenario? Everyone in the world would be just like me. I’d go out of my mind from boredom!

    And, let’s not forget… wine making began in the Middle East.

  15. Sondra says:

    The latest winemakers from the Middle East – Pari and Kamal Azari – http://www.azarivineyard.com/azary_winery.php – they’re Persian as is Darioush. We should go visit the Azaris – I just met them last week – very nice people with winery in Petaluma gap. They told a fascinating fable of how wine got its start in persia.

  16. Jo Diaz says:

    Love it, Sondra.

  17. Hey thanks for the article I really enjoyed it and I would definitely love to hear the Persian wine fable! I love old stories like those there’s something irresistible about a story or a wine that’s been properly aged. 😉

  18. Here’s to Jewish wine writers! Mazel tov, and l’chaim!

  19. Jo Diaz says:

    I’m with you on that one, Steve… a very talented group, IMHO.

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