PLEASANTON -- Forget the Manischewitz: the Livermore Valley plans to pass the cabernet at the table.
The Chabad of the Tri-Valley and Mitchell Katz Winery are jointly jumping into the kosher winemaking business, just in time for the Jewish new year.
Rosh Hashana begins Sept. 16 and the Chabad and winery announced they have begun production of a kosher cabernet sauvignon they hope to enjoy by the start of the next high holidays.
"Traditional kosher wine is very sweet and not considered a table or drinkable wine," said Daniel Kozak, a member of the Chabad who helped put together the partnership. "While it is used for a lot of observances or at holidays, it is not a wine you want to drink on a regular basis."
So the Chabad and Katz are tossing out the Concord grapes and ultrasweet taste that has graced many Jewish tables for decades and are replacing it with cabernet sauvignon.
Rabbi Raleigh Resnick, a New York City native who came to the Chabad of the Tri-Valley seven years ago, is providing the rabbinical supervision of the process from the "koshering" of the equipment to punching down while the wine ferments.
In order to be kosher, the winemaking process must be overseen by a rabbi, who also must certify all the ingredients. The equipment must also be sterilized in a certain way.
"This is unbelievable to bridge and bring together the local wine culture and the local community," said Resnick. "It is a fusion that
A name for the wine has not been selected but the Chabad plans to hold a contest to name it.
The process from vine to bottle could take between a year and 18 months, said Mitchell Katz, who jumped at the chance to partner with the Chabad and produce the Livermore Valley's first kosher wine. His will be the third known Bay Area winery to produce such a wine.
"One reason I said yes was because I (had) figured someone else was doing it," said Katz when he found out he would be the first in the Livermore Valley making kosher wine. "Something told me to help and I operate on instinct and Dan (Kozak) seemed like a nice guy."
Mitchell Katz Winery, which opened in 1998, produces about 8,000 cases of wine per year and plans to produce about 75 cases of the kosher wine on its first run.
"Livermore is known for wine and cowboys," said Kozak. "It is a way to bring in another sector of the community into the wine fold and puts an additional mark in Livermore's cap."
For more information on the Chabad of the Tri-Valley and to read blog posts from Resnick throughout the winemaking process, go to www.jewishtrivalley.com.
Contact Robert Jordan at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/robjordan127.