Beyond Apples and Honey: Kosher Wine, Food


Right NOW is the middle of harvest season in California: after months of preparation, it is finally time to pick the grapes and start them on the next step in their journey to become wine. Grapes have been coming in since August and now it is in full swing.

In wine country, it is hectic. Often wine grapes are picked in the middle of the night to early morning to get the right amount of sugar in the grapes.

But because of recent politics around immigration, many vineyards are having a hard time getting enough people to work harvest plus a recent heat wave spiked sugars and a flurry of picking ensued up and down the West Coast. Fortunately, temperatures are back to normal right now and harvest has calmed down — for harvest.

Knowing how crazy it is and how hard everyone works this time of year, I was shocked to learn that Herzog and other Jewish wine-making facilities completely shut down for four days during harvest because the religious holiday of Rosh Hashanah comes first.

That’s why Herzog’s restaurant Tierra Sur closes at 3 p.m. today and the tasting room closes at 5 p.m., in observance of the holiday Erev Rosh Hashanah and closes for Rosh Hashanah Sept. 21 and 22.

Rosh Hashanah is a Jewish religious holiday that today is known as a celebration of new beginnings and a new year. It’s a time to be truthful with one’s self about the past, present, and future. Like other New Year celebrations, Rosh Hashanah is a time of forgiveness, introspection, and reflection about the past and contemplation about the future.

According to the Jewish Journal,  “Part of that preparation inevitably involves picturing oneself in services, head buried in the prayer book.” But as the article points out “real prayer calls attention to the real world, the happenings outside the sanctuary of one’s comfort zone: in the sobering suffering of the public square.”

This New Year, this is a call to action — to see the suffering and to commit to alleviating it: “This year, we look out the windows of our sanctuaries and confront our world. We look out the windows to see a world torn by suffering and hatred. We look out the windows to acknowledge pernicious public policies that propagate bigotry, oppression and racial and ethnic supremacy upon the most vulnerable among us —­ the proverbial “ foreigner, widow and orphan.” This year, we look out the windows to see the world as it really is, rather than the alternate realities prevaricated by corrupt leaders who, we pray, may yet find their pathways to moral rehabilitation.”  

Rabbi Soffer urges us to allow our spiritual guides to “provide meaning and strength for what in the year 5778 surely will be a fierce, urgent and critical fight for the values of truth, justice and peace…As we approach this High Holy Days season, while we practice the inherently introspective tradition of cheshbon ha-nefesh, “taking account of our souls,” be prepared to look out the windows.”

According to “The Secret, Multicultural History of Rosh Hashanah” published today in The Daily Beast by Jay Michelson,  the Jewish New Year used to be celebrated in the Spring a few weeks before Passover.  But because of immigration and assimilation by the Jewish people in Babylonia, they joined in to celebrate it on the fall equinox. An important prayer of this 5,000 year ritual is Unetaneh Tokef; the article goes on to say that

“Probably the most famous, and most controversial, of high holiday prayers—known as the Unetaneh Tokef — comes from the period of the Crusades, and was allegedly written by a rabbi who had resisted church authority and been dismembered as a result. Its haunting litany of the various ways people can die is theologically troubling today—does God really ordain who shall die by fire, and who by stoning?—but comes from a period in which the oppression of Jews by Christians was indeed as unpredictable and violent as the prayer’s text suggests. Like the Spirituals of former slaves, Unetaneh Tokef reflects the religious yearnings of an oppressed people.”

Here’s a version of this prayer by “Jewish Sage” Leonard Cohen:

More than ever, it is important for us to step back and describe for ourselves the problems that we see, and to research means to act to solve them.

What got me going on this track?

Recently I received two samples of Kosher wine from the Royal Kedem Corporation, the parent of Herzog. They sent along a Spanish rose and a California Pinot Noir. This spurred us to visit Herzog, tour the facility, meet with winemaker Joe Hurliman, and taste through a number of their California wines. we also intend to visit the restaurant soon. Watch this space or subscribe to read more about Herzog and their wines.

Joe Hurliman, winemaker at Herzog: stayed tuned or subscribe for our interview with him!

Sue and I also decided to learn more about cuisine for the high holidays and to see how it paired with the wine.  We are not Jewish by ethnicity or cultural heritage or by religious upbringing; all I really knew about the cuisine was that apples and honey are traditional foods at the Jewish New Year to bring sweet success and I’ve had latkes. Once again, the menu offered challenges to Sue but it certainly offered rewards as well. We tried to be as kosher as possible.


Roasted Pumpkin and Apple Soup
recipe from

Green salad with berries, apples, pine nuts
dressed with Boathouse Farms Organic Raspberry balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Classic Potato Kugel
recipe from

Cocktail Meatballs with Pignolis ad Currants
recipe from

Green Beans with Honey Tahini Glaze
recipe from


2013 – Pearl Petita – Rosat – Celler de Capcanes 13% alcohol
2015 – Baron Herzog – Pinot Noir – california – 13% alcohol

2013 – Pearl Petita – Rosat – Celler de Capcanes 13% alcohol
60% Grenache 15% Tempranillo 15% Merlot 10% Syrah

We found this rose not to be as enjoyable on its own but it came alive with the food.

Color – pretty color – pink, not as pale as a wine from Provence, but not a bright pink, it is closer to hibiscus tea.

On the nose – it is a bit like a hibiscus tea as well. It is super fruity, super expressive. Surprisingly so, almost like hot strawberry jello, like when the citrus acid shines through, with a bit of tropical fruit. Or like when you smell a roll of tropical fruit lifesavers and you get all of the tropical fruit smells at once. It is sweet, almost like you are going to dive into a white zin

One the palate – it is not as sweet as a white zin, it is not as dry and mineral as a rose from France.  Not cloying or overly sweet minerals on the finish. It is not overly sweet or offensive.

We found this wine to go nicely with our menu for the evening. It complimented the soup, the meatballs, the kugel, and the salad. It was not great with our green beans. It kind of clashed there. Our soup had a very long lingering finish which married well with the rose.

Overall, this is a dinner unlike we have ever done before. The meatballs and the kugel and the green beans were all very different flavors. The wine really brought out the turmeric and the mustard in the salad dressing, and the salad really brought out a sweetness in the wine.

This wine was a sample for my review consideration. Thank you!

2015 – Baron Herzog – Pinot Noir – California – 13% alcohol 

This is an inexpensive, easy to find, and easy to drink wine, but nothing too special.

Color – seems translucent until you look down into the glass and it seems a bit darker. There is not a lot of color or depth, very translucent.

Nose – is quite funky, more of a European nose, earth, funk, earth, barnyard, earth, leather, dirt, and tar like the La Brea tar pits tar, so it’s a bit on the sulphuric side, but not graphite. Raspberry fruit, red vines licorice, maybe more the switzer licorice over the red vines, just a hint of strawberry.

Palate – tart rhubarb, super tart, acidic this is not our traditional salmon pinot, but it may be really nice with a fatty cut of lamb, or if our meatballs had been made from lamb it may have gone better

Lots of tannins, not overly oaked. Without the heavy oak, the fruit is allowed to show up.

The Pinot Noir wasn’t a great match for this menu. It was not great with the soup and it wasn’t particularly great with the salad. If our meatballs were lamb it may have been better. It seems to want a fattier meat rather than our lean beef. The currants and the spices in the meatballs went all right with the wine, but it did not shine. The kugel went with everything. The meatballs, while not the greatest match, was the best pairing with this wine.

Definitely not a dessert wine or an apple and honey wine!

This wine was a sample for my review consideration. Thank you!

One thought on “Beyond Apples and Honey: Kosher Wine, Food

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year! Happy Peace Day! | art predator

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