March 23, 2021, 5:48PM
Updated 5 hours ago
Passover, which begins March 27, celebrates the great escape, when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea to break free from slavery in ancient Egypt. The highlight of the holiday is the Seder, a service and feast wrapped in one, with drinking four cups of wine as a key ritual.
Our tasty and budget-savvy wine of the week winner — the Baron Herzog, 2018 California Cabernet Sauvignon — will set you up for that ritual. This tasty kosher cab has savory notes and juicy flavors of blackberry, black cherry and a streak of black raspberry, with an undercurrent of spice. The Baron Herzog overdelivers; it’s a steal for this caliber of cab.
Other tasty Passover and Easter reds include Merry Edwards, 2018 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 14.5%, $55; Ram’s Gate, 2018 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 14%, $48; Trombetta, 2016 Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 14.2%, $65; Cambria, 2018 Julia’s Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir, 14.1%, $25; and Dalton Estate, 2017 Galilee, Israel Red Wine, 14.5%, $20.
The Baron Herzog and the Dalton Estate are both kosher — to be labeled kosher, a wine has to be handled by Jews who observe the Sabbath and who abide by the kosher dietary laws.
“The wine (at Herzog Cellars in Oxnard) is physically handled only by a Sabbath-observant Jewish cellar crew under rabbinical supervision to ensure that everything is done perfectly in accordance with our traditions,” said Joseph Herzog, proprietor and vice president of operations. “We also protect what goes into the wines during the winemaking process. Yeasts, fining and cleaning materials have to be certified as kosher and must not be derived from animal byproducts. It really creates an additional opportunity to control the quality and purity of the finished wine.”
Herzog, 40, is the eighth generation of his family to carry on the winemaking tradition. He was born into the family business, and his first harvest was in 1989 when he was 8 years old.
“We trace our roots back to the town of Vrbové in the Trnava Region of Slovakia, where our family built their first winery and distillery,” Herzog said. “During the Austro-Hungarian Empire of the late 19th century, Emperor Frans-Josef was so impressed with the Herzog family wines that he dubbed Phillip Herzog a baron and asked the Herzog family to produce wine for the royal court. Our Baron Herzog series is named in his honor.”
The Herzog family has been making wine since 1840. It’s the oldest winemaking family producing wine in the United States today, Herzog said.
“It’s in our blood,” he said. “We’re telling our family story, and each vintage is a new chapter. The quality of the wine we put into the bottle determines how well we tell our story.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at email@example.com or 707-521-5310.
Wine, The Press Democrat
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