The two pioneers of kosher winemaking were honored in the Top 100 Game Changers in the last 100 years by Wine and Vine Magazine. These were Ernie Weir and Peter Stern. Ernie Weir is the owner and winemaker of Hagafen Cellars, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary. When Ernie Weir founded Hagafen in 1979, it was the first kosher winery to focus only on quality, dry table wines. The winery is situated in Napa Valley on the Silverado Trail. Hagafen wines have been served at White House Banquets on more than twenty occasions and over the last forty years have won numerous awards.
Peter Stern was the wine consultant for the Golan Heights Winery and winemaker of Herzog Wine Cellars. The Golan Heights Winery brought the New World wine revolution to Israel and it was the pioneering winery making Israel’s first world class wines. Herzog Wine Cellars was founded in 1985 and moved to Oxnard in 2005. It is the largest winery in California producing quality, kosher dry wines.
Ernie Weir and Peter Stern are similar characters. Quiet, modest and reserved, but they both influenced the change in kosher from sweet to dry and from basic to award winning wines. Both received accolades, high scores, trophies and gold medals at the highest level for quality wines and it was incidental, and not relevant, that they were kosher. In the magazine, their mention is appropriately sandwiched between two major events: the Judgement of Paris and that influential 60 Minutes program! Many congratulations to Ernie and Peter. Their groundbreaking influence is taken for granted today, but they should not be forgotten.