The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2013

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Page 138 of 164

No Sacrifice for Quality THE HERZOG FAMILY HAS CHANGED THE WORLD OF (KOSHER) WINE by Meridith May / photos by Rob Brown E Joshua Greenstein formed the IWPA—Israeli Wine Producers Association—to promote wines from that country, but not specifically as kosher. "The wines are not kosher wines; they are Israeli wines that happen to be kosher." 138  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2013 ugene Herzog came to the U.S. in 1948, penniless, having escaped from Czechoslovakia during the war. His family's eight generations of winemakers included his grandfather, Baron Philip Herzog, who made wines for Emperor Franz-Josef and the Austro-Hungarian court. Hired by a wine company in New York City soon after his arrival, Herzog worked as a sales and delivery person, but when the company could no longer afford his salary, he borrowed and bought out the partners of the former Royal Wine in the 1950s, and created the Kedem wine brand. The word kedem has two meanings in Hebrew. One meaning refers to what came before. "We were a wealthy, prestigious family," recounts eighth-generation Joseph Herzog, Director of Herzog Wine Cellars in California. "That's the past. But kedem also means moving forward, and we demonstrate that as trendsetters in the wine industry." Eugene's youngest son, David, went to Wall Street, preferring stocks and bonds to vines and bottles. But when it came to gourmet dining, he enjoyed drinking high-end wines. "At that time, all the kosher wines were sweet and syrupy," Joseph tells THE TASTING PANEL. But David had a vision: Fine kosher wines could be imported, and could even be produced here in the U.S. "First, we invested in a container from France," explains Joseph. "Some were skeptical that we could sell that much Baron Rothschild," the kosher wine from the most respected family in French wine. "And we actually could not move a single bottle," Joseph continues, "until the New York Times ran a story on fine dry wines—explaining that dry is not the opposite of wet, poking fun at kosher wine drinkers' habits." After the story appeared, Kedem's first import sold out almost instantaneously. Since then, the Herzog family's Royal Wine Corp. has revolutionized the world's view of kosher wines, importing premium releases from Israel, Italy, Spain and New Zealand. Further cementing its reputation as the leader in the kosher wine category, in 2005 Royal Wine Corp. built its own state-ofthe-art Herzog Winery in Oxnard, California. Thanks to the Herzog family's vision, international and domestic kosher releases now enjoy a solid reputation among wine lovers, Joseph, David and Nathan Herzog of Royal Wine Corp. and those sweet, syrupy lead the path for high-end kosher wines from around bottles are little more than the world. a distant memory.

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