November 2, 2009

Small Israeli Wineries Find Keeping Kosher a Challenge

Richmond VA…A number of small wineries in Israel find both the requirements and the cost of making kosher wine to be too burdensome, according to an article in the Richmond Wine Dispatch. The winemakers appear to be caught in the quandary between being shut out of many kosher restaurants and with large numbers of consumers and conforming to the requirements of making wine kosher. Shuki Yashuv of the Yagur Winery, located in the hills around Jerusalem, decided he needed to convert to a kosher winery several years ago and is now releasing his first kosher vintages. For him as a proud secular Jew, the transition was more unsettling: "Of course, it bothers me. I think it's ridiculous -- it's extremely annoying from a theological point of view." While Yashuv made the switch for economic reasons, "when I started producing 5,000 bottles a year, I decided I needed to open myself to a bigger market." The Israel Wine Council estimates the domestic wine market at $215 million annually, and Israeli wine exports have risen by 42 percent over the past five years, with 95 percent of it certified kosher.