Wine com­pany finds its niche

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - OLIVER LEWIS

Mak­ing kosher wine can be a lo­gis­ti­cal challenge, but one Marl­bor­ough wine com­pany has found its niche meet­ing the di­etary re­quire­ments of ob­ser­vant Jews.

O’Dwyers Creek Vine­yard owner Lind­say Dahlberg was the first per­son to start mak­ing kosher wine in the re­gion af­ter Jewish friends told him there was de­mand for kosher sau­vi­gnon blanc.

The former Oys­ter Bay grape­grower, who owns a 8-hectare vine­yard in Ra­paura, teamed up with con­tract win­ery Marl­bor­ough Vint­ners for the first kosher vin­tage in 2010.

To make wine kosher, every stage of the wine­mak­ing process has to be han­dled by a mash­giach, an ob­ser­vant Jew who over­sees the pro­duc­tion.

Eric An­der­son, a fol­lower of Ortho­dox Ju­daism, fills this role for O’Dwyers Creek Vine­yard.

The kosher wine mar­ket was a niche one, but Lind­say says this is a good thing for his com­pany, as he does not have to com­pete against other Marl­bor­ough pro­duc­ers.

There are lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges mak­ing kosher wine, ad­di­tives have to be cer­ti­fied kosher, which meant tra­di­tional fin­ing agents like milk, fish and eggs can­not be used, he says.

To make sure the wine is pure, part of the win­ery at Marl­bor­ough Vin­ters has to be sealed off for 24 hours when grapes from the vine­yard are brought in, to avoid con­tam­i­na­tion.

A num­ber of Jewish hol­i­days also fell dur­ing har­vest, so An­der­son and the other Ortho­dox work­ers brought in dur­ing the pe­riod could not work on cer­tain days, Lind­say says.

‘‘From the mo­ment we har­vest, Eric or other Ortho­dox Jews are the only ones that are al­lowed to touch the grapes and the ma­chin­ery un­til the wine is in the bot­tle.’’

O’Dwyers Creek Vine­yard wine is also pas­teurised dur­ing the wine­mak­ing process to make it me­vushal, from the He­brew word for boiled.

This meant meant ob­ser­vant Jews are still able to drink it if the wine is han­dled by those who do not fol­low the 613 com­mand­ments in the To­rah.

The kosher wine was ex­ported to Canada, Eng­land, Aus­tralia and the United States, where the Ortho­dox Union is based, a kosher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion body which sends a rabbi to in­spect pro­duc­tion twice a year.

Last year, Lind­say also started mak­ing kosher grape juice.

PHOTO: DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Mash­giach Eric An­der­son, left, and O’Dwyers Creek Vine­yard owner Lind­say Dahlberg with a bot­tle of kosher wine.

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