Returning Jewish Wine to its Homelandby Brie Stimson April 3, 2017
Rooted on picturesque limestone terraces nearly 3,000 feet above sea level, the Psagot Winery overlooks the Wadi Kelt and the mountains of Edom in Israel.
The winery, with its perfect location for grape-growing, produces more than 300,000 kosher wines a year. Many of those are exported to different countries around the world. It was founded by Yaakov Berg, who emigrated from Russia at the age of three.
“My father was a farmer and I was raised with a lot of love for the land and this was how the hobby of winemaking was born and turned into a successful winery,” Berg tells the Jewish Journal.
Berg started the winery 14 years ago, and the business continues to grow.
“Thank G-d [the winery’s business is] very good. We continue surpassing milestones we set for ourselves and are excited to see what the future holds,” he says. “We are known for our red wines, which include three different blends, a Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. We also make Chardonnay, Viognier and Rosé.”
Psagot wines can be found here in San Diego and throughout the United States, and also in Canada, Europe, Panama, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and South Africa. Berg says he has plans to enter new markets worldwide.
Since the winery’s inception, his business has grown one hundredfold, “now, in our Bar Mitzvah year we produce 300,000 bottles a year. We always strive forward,” he says.
In the beginning, Berg explains, the financial side of the business was challenging, but by starting small and expanding slowly they are continuing to see success.
Kosher wine doesn’t have a great name, and Israel is still working on its image as a premiere vintner in a global market with tough competition. Berg takes the long view. He says that although up until recently the world only knew the simple Kiddush wine, in ancient times the Romans bought their premium wines from Israel. But since the Jews were disconnected from their land for 2,000 years, Berg explains, “getting the word out that we are now producing incredible wines takes time.”
The wine proprietor says it’s a miracle that Israel is producing wine again, let alone wine that is actually getting positive attention.
“For 2,000 years, there were unsuccessful attempts at growth production. Even though all the nations that stayed here tried, they couldn’t grow anything. But now, the land produces very fine fruit – the Jewish people returned to their land and the land returned to us.”
Psagot’s terroir (soil, topography and climate) at 3,000 feet above sea level is optimal for winemaking. The mineral-filled rocky limestone that the winery’s vines are planted in makes superior grapes. The vines absorb the minerals through the roots while looking for fluids, affecting the quality and taste of the fruit. A great day trip from Jerusalem, the winery has a visitor’s center with activities for kids as well.
Berg hopes to continue to make the best wines possible in the foreseeable future, to make people happy with great products and through his wines he wants to “connect all people to the amazing story of Israel.”
Where to find Psagot Wines in San Diego:
The Wine Connection
2650 Via De La Valle #C130
Del Mar, CA 92014
Ralphs La Jolla Village Square
8657 Villa La Jolla Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92037