Filling A Void In A Deep Gorge

Filling a Void in a Deep Gorge: Gorge Estate Vineyards of Washington State Enables Royal Wine to Enter New Territory for Premium Kosher Wines

Wine lovers who keep kosher have been fortunate enough to have kosher wines available from many of the premier wine producing regions of the world. Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, Spanish Rioja, Australian Shiraz and the wonderful wines of Italy to name a few. But kosher wine lovers don’t end their quest for wine with the traditional wine regions — they seek out wine from more obscure locations such as South Africa, Portugal, Hungary and New Zealand.

Adding to their impressive portfolio of wines from around the world (yes, they import kosher wines from South Africa, Portugal and Hungary) Royal Wine Corporation, the largest importer, producer and distributor of kosher wines in North America, set out to produce Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand —hailed as among the best regions for this famed grape.

Around the same time, a New Zealand winemaker, Philip Jones, had a chance meeting with a California winemaker who had done some contract work for Royal Wine Corporation. Ever the entrepreneur, Mr. Jones realized that nobody was making kosher wines in New Zealand and began his research by talking to a rabbi in Wellington who was involved in certifying kosher foods. Ultimately, Jones met with representatives from Royal Wine in New York and the Goose Bay brand was born.

On the heels of five successful years in New Zealand (a Southern Hemisphere country where the grape harvest generally takes place between January and March) and high ratings by Wine Spectator, The Wall Street Journal and many Jewish and non-Jewish wine critics, Philip Jones sought to fill yet another void in the kosher wine marketplace. Together with his wife, Sheryl, and with cooperation from Royal Wine Corporation, the Jones’ established Gorge Estate Vineyards and winery, located on Underwood Mountain, in the Columbia Gorge in Washington State.

Unlike the New Zealand facility, the Washington winery will be a dedicated kosher winery. It has a capacity of about 7,000 cases. The plan is to start slowly with the inaugural vintage and produce about 2,500 cases from 2010, with plans to ramp up production as the brand becomes established.

These will be the first premium kosher wines made in the Pacific Northwest and will include a Walla Walla (Washington) Cabernet Sauvignon, a Washington Cabernet-Merlot and a Willamette Valley (Oregon) Pinot Noir. The first release will be the Oregon Pinot Noir, with release projection of mid- 2012.

The Orthodox Union, the world’s most respected kosher certification agency, will oversee all aspects of the wine production. The Jones’ and Royal Wine look forward to this first vintage and the ability to provide premium kosher wines from the Pacific Northwest to the world.

OU Kosher Staff