Tag Archives: Okanagan Valley

Canadian winery releases organic ‘uncooked’ kosher wine

Canada’s Summerhill Pyramid Winery has released its first kosher wine.

And not just any ol’ kosher wine. One that hasn’t been heated or flash-pasteurized  — a process that, many critics say, destroys the taste of good wine.

Tiferet — Hebrew for “beauty” — is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.


Only 1,200 bottles were made, and each sells for $100. The wine is only for sale at Summerhill Pyramid Winery in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada.

A collaboration between the winery and Rabbi Shmuly Hecht, Tiferet was made with the winery’s finest grapes, and then aged in 100 per cent new French and American oak barrels.

“The desire to share a great wine with my dear friend Rabbi Shmuly Hecht was the original inspiration to create Tiferet,” says Summerhill’s CEO Ezra Cipes. “Rabbi Shmuly would invite me over to taste these kosher wines which had all been cooked. In my opinion it ruins the wine, and I realized that Rabbi Shmuly didn’t know what wine is supposed to taste like.”

Very few wines in the world are labelled kosher;  to be correctly labeled kosher, it must be produced following strict Jewish dietary laws known as kashrut.

Eric von Krosigk, Summerhill’s multiple-award-winning winemaker, worked on the project by giving hand-off advice only. That’s because in order for a wine to be declared kosher, it must be made by a Sabbath-observant Jew — in this case, Hecht, who recently moved to the Okanagan from New York City.

“The rabbis were the only hands to touch the wine, or any unsealed vessel that contained the wine,” according to a news release from Summerhill. “They operated all of the equipment and performed every task that required contact with the wine itself. The wine was produced in a single bay garage on the Summerhill property as a private ‘temple’ of wine.”

The resulting wine is unfined and unfiltered. It has been pyramid-energized (in true Summerhill style!) and, like Summerhill’s other wines, it is certified organic.

It has also been declared “non-mevushal kosher under the authority of Rabbi Levy Teitlebaum of Ottawa Vaad Hakashrut,” according to the news release.

Hecht also hand-sealed each bottle with wax “with the hechsher (“seal of approval”) of Ottawa Vaad Hakashrut, which certifies that the wine is indeed kosher.”


More from Summerhill on the subject: “To remain kosher, the wine must also be opened, handled and poured by Jews. An exception exists, where if the wine is ‘cooked’ to near-boiling temperatures, the wine can then be handled and poured by non-Jews. The resulting wine is called ‘mevushal’ and is popular at catered events where Jews and non-Jews would be present. Most mevushal wines have been observed to have poorer quality, so to maintain the integrity of the wine (and to preserve the flavours and aromatics), Summerhill decided against heating the wine, which means Tiferet kept its overall flavour profile and tannic structure intact.”


Handout photos from Summerhill Pyramid Winery

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Happy (almost) holidays for wine lovers

So, Hanukkah begins this coming Wednesday evening. American Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday. And today marks exactly one month until Christmas Day.

I figure that’s a good time to talk about fine holiday gifts for wine lovers. No hints, really. I have a kazillion openers, aerators, decanters, books on wine, you name it.

But when I buy gifts for my grown-up friends this month, you can bet those prezzies will probably be wine-related.

A few of my favourite non-pourable things?

1. Cool wine-themed stuff from Etsy. I love Etsy. Love it. I can shop from the comfort of my home, while listening to Coffitivity and pretending I’m working. And there are always very cool wine-themed things to be found.

Such as these resveratrol necklaces from Made with Molecules. Brainy. Creative. Sexy.


And personalized wine charms, because after a couple glasses of wine, my friends and family never remember if they have the green tag or the blue tag. But (hopefully) most of them remember their own names. And the thought of ordering from a business named Philanthropic Panda just makes me laugh.


2. Books about wine. I received a copy of John Bonne’s new book, The New California Wine, for my birthday, and I’ve enjoyed it so much (and learned a lot,) I’m giving a copy to at least one set of friends this Christmas. He’s thorough and opinionated and interesting, and he’s the wine editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. 


4. Wine bottle stoppers. Bright colours, very practical, and the Trudeau promise is that they’re leak-proof. I like. Practical for those days when you don’t drink the whole bottle (surely, there’s at least one or two in a year), and they’ll fit in a stocking. I have some old ones, but they aren’t nearly as cute. I’d upgrade…


5. A wine club membership. Depending where you live, the options will vary, of course. But a few to consider include Tannic (high-end international wines, slightly discounted prices, Canadian), Alberta Winestein (you can pick a pack with cheese, too), Black Hills Winery (one of the Okanagan Valley‘s finest), Tinhorn Creek’s Crush Club (you get extra treats when you visit the on-site restaurant, also in Canada’s Okanagan Valley),  and last but not least, the Okanagan Crush Pad club (you can mix and match your fave wines.)


Coming soon: Wines for your favourite teachers, financial advisors, neighbours and even your mom. Or your dad.

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