April 2, 2010
Today was Good Friday, and most New Zealanders began their four-day holiday weekend. Even the winery was pretty quiet since the bottling crew, engineers, office staff, cellar door, truck drivers, and warehouse employees were all off. For winemakers and cellar hands, however, there’s no such thing as a holiday weekend during vintage. So the entire winery was empty except for about the ten of us in the cellar and lab, which was pretty relaxing even if we worked.
I spent the day inoculating Viognier. Inoculating is the microbio way of saying introducing microbes to a medium. In our case, the microbes are yeast, usually Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Yeast is the stuff that changes grape juice into wine. Think of yeast cells as hungry, gassy, reproducing little bugs. They eat the sugars in juice and metabolize them, basically farting and burping out carbon dioxide and alcohol. Happy yeast is the most important thing during fermentation. If the yeast are happy, the fermentation goes well and the wine will be at its best. If they aren’t, then a whole load of things can go wrong, so we try to keep our yeast very very happy. We can do thing by controlling the temperature, using yeast nutrients like ammonia, amino acids, vitamins, and the like.
The yeast comes dried and vacuum sealed in 500 gram packets. I like to think of them as napping yeast. In order to inoculate a tank of juice, the dried yeast needs to be transformed into a living, eating, farting, baby-yeast-making colony. We do this by waking the napping yeast with a nice warm bath and some breakfast, kind of how we’d wake a person. The yeast are reanimated in 40-degree Celsius water (about body temperature) to let them rehydrate and get going again. Once the yeast are rehydrated, we add juice for the yeast to eat, making sure the temperature of the bath doesn’t change too quickly and freak the yeast out (think of your morning shower suddenly going cold). As soon as the yeast is alive and eating, that’s when they start making yeast-babies and when the temperature is close enough to that of the tank (best within 5 degrees Celsius), we can inoculate.
Once the yeast are in the juice, we have more freedom to play with the temperature in order to promote or curb yeast metabolism and reproduction and control the rate of fermentation. Here in New Zealand, it seems that they tend to favor a relatively quick fermentation. A pinot noir that I inoculated last week looked just about done today on its eighth day. This happens when the wine is dry (= no sugar) and the yeast runs out of food and dies. So it goes. (Fermentation can also stop if the alcohol level becomes too high for the yeast to live, which is more common in fortified wines like port, in which alcohol is added to kill the yeast and stop fermentation while the sugar levels are still high.)
Okay, I’ve gotta run so that’s the winegeek you get for now. Hope the rest of the weekend is as good as Friday.
March 31, 2010
This past week the Chardonnay decided to ripen. All at the same time. The presses have been running pretty much nonstop processing lot after lot of Chardonnay, mostly from vineyards in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.
Pressing so many tons of Chardonnay means two things. The first, most obviously, means lots of Chardonnay juice to ferment, mostly in barrels. It also, of course, means lots of presses to clean. Our winery has two presses, a Diemme 5-ton press and a Bucher 20-ton job. They usually run their cycles in about two to three hours and then immediately get emptied, cleaned, and prepped for the next load.
I decided to take this past week as an opportunity to learn how to operate and clean these massive machines. I figured that there can’t be a much better way to learn about a press than by getting inside and cleaning the thing. (Don’t worry, mom, we had like five different safeties on.)
Here’s how a pneumatic press works. The grapes go inside. Then the whole thing turns around like a cement mixer and the first juice is pressed out by the weight of the other grapes. The juice then passes through strainer-protected gutters and out of a series of holes on one side of the press. Then, a giant balloon is filled with air and presses the grapes against the walls of the press compartment and the juice drains out through the same gutters. Once out, the juice collects in a small tank and can be pumped to a tank or directly to barrels. The first juice that comes out is generally the cleanest and is fermented separately from the dirtier later pressings. I’ve always known how a press works, but getting inside really let me see how it all happens.
The past few days we have been beginning fermentation, barreling down, and cleaning up the dirty juice (more on that later). Word in the vineyard is that the reds are still a week or so away.
In my personal life, this week we celebrate Passover. I had the chance to spend the holiday with the Jewish community in Auckland, which was very nice. It’s kind of disorienting shuttling back and forth between 24/7 harvest mode and holiday mode. When I came back today, I felt kind of guilty missing two days of work while everyone else is working vintage shifts. (Of course, everyone at the winery is very understanding and accomodating.) Now on to attempting to explain the strange giant crackers that I’m eating in the break room. Wish me luck.
March 24, 2010
Hey everyone. Crazy day today. I spent the whole morning pumping a tankload of gewurztraminer juice out of these things called pallecons. A pallecon, essentially, is kind of a giant juicebox. It’s a collapsible contaner/pallet (get it?) with a bag inside, which can be filled with liquids and are used to ship small quantities of up to 1000 liters of wine and juice.
In the afternoon, I went to the post office to pick up my modem that the postal service had trouble delivering to me for the past two days. When I spoke to the good folks at the post courier, they said it would be at the Mangere Bridge post office by this afternoon, so this afternoon (4 pm, just to make sure my modem would get there) my roommate Tim and I made a trip to the post office. Let it be known that a post office in New Zealand is never just a post office. There’s always more. Kind of like the way a Dunkin Donuts always seems to be a Baskin Robbins too. It always has a Kiwi bank for starters. Then on top of that, my local post shop has a dry cleaners and a Travelex money changer for good measure. And it’s not even a big space, maybe about the size of your run of the mill Chinese take-out joint in New York. Go figure. In any case, I showed my pick-up slip to the lady behind the counter, at which point she disappeared into the bowels of the post office/bank/Travelex/dry cleaners, ostensibly so that she can return a short while later holding a package with my name on it. Nope. Too easy. She comes back empty-handed and looking a bit confused. I must have been misinformed, she tells, me. No package for me today. I proceed to call the postal service’s hotline (the same one that told me yesterday that my modem would be there by this afternoon) and they insist it was delivered to the very post office in front of which I was standing at 1:51 pm that afternoon. They place me on hold so that they can call the post office and sort everything out. At this point, I walk back inside, just to watch the postal service call the local office’s supervisor (and dry cleaner?) with whom I was in the middle of speaking, while the whole time being on hold with the post courier’s customer service. Long story short, my package indeed was there on the floor the whole time and by the power of Al Gore I walk out holding the internet in my hands. I then went to my fishmonger a few doors down for a so-fresh-the-eye-is-not-only-clear-but-actually-see-through snapper and walked back to the car holding a nice representation of New Zealand in my hands: subpar with regard to the types of things you expect from a civilized country, but great fish.
So I thus am the owner of a shiny new internet and should thus be posting here more often now.
Anyway, when I got back to work, I was charged with the task of barreling down fermenting chardonnay. For the uninitiated, “barreling down” is winespeak for transferring wine into barrels, usually for the first time. For barrel-fermented chardonnay, the fermentation begins on the entire lot in a tank and then is barreled down into individual barrels where it ferments. This fermentation began on the warm side (about 20 Celsius), so it was going strong and foaming furiously. We expected to fill 8 barrels, but it turned out to be more. I spent the last two hours of my workday filling burgundy barrels until they erupted with froth and then waited for the foam to die down and then tried to get some more with in there so the whole tank would fit into those 8 barrels. It ended up taking 10 full and frothing barrels to hold what was supposed to fit in 8. FYI, the foam looks and feels just like bubble bath. Great for smearing on your face for foam-beards–just smells like yeast, which is fine by me.
That was my crazy day. Ended with a big bowlful of penne with a fresh snapper ragout Campania/Puglia style and of course a frothing cold beer. Time to call it a night. I’ve got to wake up in a few hours and do it all over again.
March 13, 2010
There is a tradition in wineries all around the world for the winemakers and cellar staff to grow beards during harvest. I guess the idea is kind of like the playoff beard in American sports. It shows group unity and it grows over time on the faces of all those in the winery for the long haul of vintage.
All the guys in the cellar shaved last week and will be growing harvest beards. This harvest will be my first growing one. It should be good for me since I hate shaving (probably mostly because I suck at it) and wasn’t even planning on shaving during April anyway. Right now I’m at day 9 and it’s starting to come in just enough that it’s clearly more than just incidental stubble. I might post pictures of my beard as it grows over the next two months or so if it’s awesome-looking enough. I hope it is
March 13, 2010
Harvest 2010 has officially begun here on New Zealand’s North Island. This week the winery harvested its Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay from its Auckland area vineyards and more is on its way. It’s been an interesting growing season. A humid January and early February and a dry late February and early March has meant that some white varieties are being harvested early and most of the reds are taking a bit longer to ripen down in Hawke’s Bay.
In order to process the first lots of this year’s crop and fully prepare the winery for vintage we switched to our harvest schedule a week earlier than planned. We work two 12-hour shifts six days a week. Day shift is 7 am to 7 pm and night shift is 7 pm to 7 am. I am on day shift for now until we switch shifts in a couple of weeks. So far it’s been busy and exhausting and fun and overwhelming all at the same time. It’s kind of weird in the sense that we’re already in harvest mode, but still kind of before harvest takes over our daily activities, so we’re still bottling and blending and working on 2009 wine even though we’re working long shifts. We should be in true harvest mode by the end of this week.
As I’ve said before, working in another cellar has been a great opportunity to gain perspective on my normal life. There are definitely some things that they do differently here that are great and that we can learn from at our winery at home. At the same time, there are things here that make me really appreciate the winemaking and people and equipment that I’m used to back home. On a personal note, I’ve now spent the last month away from my normal life in New York. Just like a new environment sheds light on my professional life, it’s also given me a chance to take a bit of a personal inventory while being out of the whirlwind of my New York life, and think about life and friends and the things that I do and why I do them. A chance to thing about life is always a good thing.
Thanks to everyone for their comments and E-mails. It’s been really great to hear from everyone. Hopefully I will have internet in the vintage house sometime this week. Just trying to work out a few details. Stay tuned. (Same bat-url.)
February 26, 2010
I apologize for my lack of internet. I promise I’ll post more when I can. Hopefully, I’ll have more constant access soon.
In my last post I mentioned how the winery that I’m working at now is larger than any I’ve ever worked at before. Well, when I came to work this morning, I was given a work order that put me in charge of the delivery of five tankers of Sauvignon Blanc that was shipped by train from the winery’s Marlborough facility. Now, just to give you an idea of what this means, these are the same tankers that gas companies and dairies use to move massive amounts of liquid, wine in this case. The whole concept of moving wine by train from one island to another is lost on me, but the tankers made it nonetheless.
I was kind of vaguely briefed on what to do and then the first truck came, so I kind of figured it out as I went. The whole process went suspiciously smoothly. That is, of course, until the tank began to overflow five minutes before my shift ended. So it goes.
In other news, I got the chance for my first adventure this week. On Sunday afternoon, two of my friends and I went to a beach called Piha about 45 minutes out of Auckland. Eveything about the place is magnificent. The whole drive was on winding mountain roads through dense forests. It opened up at the end as we descended into the cracks between the mountains the lead to the sea. The sand there is black (something to do with volcanoes I think) and the beach gives way to cliffs so it looks like a pattern of cliffs and sand, cliffs and sand. So far, New Zealand has lived up to its reputation.
February 20, 2010
So despite last week’s travel snags, I finally arrived in New Zealand the other day. Travelling is a funny thing. Whenever I first get to a new place, I can’t help but compare it to what I already know. I orient myself with the things that look familiar to try to understand my new surroundings, but there are always small differences in even the most familiar things. Whether it’s seeing a Coke bottle that holds 2.25 liters instead of 2 or a sink drain swirling around clockwise, these small differences are both exciting and a little disorienting. There’s also something enchanting about it. The maples look like the sycamores I see every day in New York, but their leaves are wider and rounder. The seagulls have smaller sharper beaks. There’s something defamilarizing about all the ordinary objects that makes them worth looking at twice. The world seems hyperreal. Everything is exciting.
On Friday, I began my harvest job at the winery. I’ve been working in wineries for three years, so I feel pretty at-home in the cellar. But nonetheless, stepping into this massive room of tremendous tanks–ones so big that a single tank can hold my old winery’s entire production for 2008 AND 2009–was a little disorienting, but not in a bad way. The hoses and fittings work a little differently, the chemicals they use are a bit different, and simply the scale of operation is totally new for me. But just like the birds and the trees and the bottles of Coke, the small differences make everything new and fresh and exciting.
Here’s to an exciting vintage.
February 15, 2010
The only predictable thing about harvest is that it’s unpredictable. That said, it may be kind of disturbingly appropriate that my Sunday flight from New York to Auckland was canceled last minute “due to mechanical issues.” A few fruitless hours on the phone with Qantas, and the best they could do is get me on a Monday flight through Brisbane (extra 10 hours in transit) or my original route to Auckland on Tuesday. So I try again on Tuesday evening, meaning I should land in Auckland on Thursday. Weird way to pass a week.
In Israeli slang they call a sudden change of plans a “baltam,” and harvest is full of them. So, here’s my first baltam of 2010. It looks like it’s harvest season already.
February 11, 2010
I write this introduction in windy New York as eighteen inches of snow fall outside. In a few days I will board a plane destined for late summer and the beginning of the grape harvest. For the next few months, I will work at a large winery in New Zealand as a harvest intern. This blog will serve as my letters to the world as I disappear to its other side for a while. To paraphrase Garth Algar, I just hope you don’t think it sucks.
[Taken from Ilan's blog winemakerguy.wordpress.com]
March 6, 2010
One of the bet parts about working a vintage here in New Zealand is the people. I don’t think I’ve met a single Kiwi who hasn’t been extremely friendly. Most of the workers in the winery are young, laid back, and take their winemaking seriously, which makes for a great work environment.
Another cool part of vintage work is the other foreign workers. Vintage means lots of work, which in turn means that wineries need qualified workers for just a few months out of the year to handle all of the chaos that comes every year with harvest. Any given winemaking region generally needs help filling these jobs, especially since qualified locals need year-round positions if they’re going to stay in one place. Foreign workers (like myself) allow wineries to get experienced cellar workers on a short term basis. These workers come from all around the world and bring with them experience from the places they have worked. They are generally young, work for relatively cheap, and are enthusiastic about working long harvest hours as part of the winery team.
If that sounds like a good deal for the wineries, what’s in it for foreign vintage workers?
1. Experience. Young winemakers are always looking to gain as much practical experience as possible. Since harvest only comes once a year, travelling to the Southern Hemisphere gives winemakers from up north the chance to work two harvests in a year and develop their winemaking skills more quickly. Winemakers from the south often work harvests up north for the same reason.
2. Seeing something new. Winemaking, like any craft I guess, is done differently in different places. Travelling abroad to different regions allows young winemakers to see how things are done in different places, work with different grapes from different terroirs, and to meet and learn from winemakers with different approaches than whatever they have seen before.
3. Travel. For young winemakers, working vintages abroad is the perfect opportunity to see the world while making money working the vintage. Wine regions generally tend to be in some of the planet’s most beautiful places, and working harvests in different wine regions is an exciting way to see what’s out there.
That said, the winery I’m working at this vintage is one of the biggest in New Zealand and has about a dozen foreign harvest interns. We come from all over the world. I’m from New York. Others are from Giacomo and Davide from Italy, Pierre and Julien from France, Joe and Immi and Tim from England, Agustin from Argentina, Lara from California, and Lindsay from Canada. (And then there are local Kiwis too, like Michelle and Luke, who are also just around for the harvest.)
As a slight aside, It’s funny how it’s cool to be from New York when you’re in other parts of the world. I’m used to getting the same blase look when I tell Americans that I’m from New York–the kind of look that makes it seem that they’ve probably met more New Yorkers in their lifetime than they would have if given the choice. In New Zealand, however, I introduce myself as a New Yorker and I’m immediately the life of the party. People are excited to talk to me. About anything New York really. They tell me about the time they went to midtown or ask me if policemen in New York really like doughnuts (the NYPD patrol car consistently double-parked outside Dunkin Donuts on 181st Street seems to suggest that they do). Either way, it’s a reaction I’m totally not used to.
Most of us live in the vintage house, which is kind of like The Real World meets the UN, only set in the lovely low-income neighborhood of Mangere in South Auckland, where we are by far the whitest kids on the block. And the least intimidating in a game of rugby. Most of the locals are Maori, Samoan/Tongan, or Asians (who are far less intimidating than the Pacific Islanders as rugby players). We at the vintage house are all new in town and and the winery and we’re all going through the same thing. We all came to New Zealand not knowing anyone or anything about the place. We look out for each other, work together, eat together, watch TV together, and take trips on the weekends together.
The winery has been remarkably quick in getting us all swagged up with personally embroidered work vests and Redback steel-toe work boots, which are both comfortable and waterproof and pretty awesome as far as work boots go.
So far we’ve been working 10 hours shifts five days a week. That should go on until harvest starts. Then we’ll switch to 12 hour shifts six days a week, probably the third week of March depending on when the grapes are ready for harvest. Meanwhile, we’ve been working on the 2009 wine, mostly racking and blending the reds and bottling the whites. My hands are already terribly stained like they always are when I work, which my friends not in the industry seem to find highly amusing.
Speaking of dirty, I think I’ll head for the shower and then to sleep. I need to get my rest while I can, because God knows that when the grapes start coming my sleep will be severely limited.
Talk atcha all later.
[taken from Ilan's blog winemakerguy.wordpress.com]
Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
Truth is, Billy Crystal was right on the money in showing how subjective and arbitrary a lot of pairings seem. With wine, people just assume that they need an expert to share sacred nuggets of wine dogma handed down from the damp and hallowed Brettanomyces-ridden cellars of ancient French chateaux in order to get the “correct” pairing for their meal. In reality the whole deal is both a lot simpler and a lot more subjective than that.
There are two keys to wine pairing. First and most important is balance. You want a wine that won’t overpower your food. The same way you wouldn’t want to smother your delicate sea bass fillet (sustainably raised of course) with even the most delicious chipotle mole prepared by Rick Bayless himself, you probably wouldn’t want to pair that fillet with a big-giant-knock-your-socks-off Cabernet. At the same time, you don’t want the food and wine overpower one another. A pepper-crusted ribeye might make a light and fragrant Pinot Gris taste unexpectedly watery, or a sweet wine that would be great with chocolate cake might make your maple glazed sweet potatoes seem less sweet. The key is to pick a wine that compliments your food. In a good pairing, both the food and the wine can showcase their fine points without being overwhelmed by the other.
The strategy that I like use when coming up with a pairing is what I call match or contrast. It’s kind of like when getting dressed, I can either match a navy jacket with a navy tie, or go in the complete opposite direction and contrast it with a bright yellow one. When a food offers a certain flavor, a wine pairing can aim to match the food, like serving an earthy red Burgundy to go with with the earthiness of a mushroom risotto or a really fruity young red to compliment the fruit of duck with a berry reduction. However, you can also go in the other direction and pick a wine that will provide contrast for the flavors of the food, like choosing a Gewurztraminer that has touch of sweetness to balance the spice of Thai or Indian food, or using the acidity of Riesling or Barbera to cut the fattiness of greasy or fatty food.
The most important thing to remember is that there are no right and wrong answers, as long as the food and wine don’t overpower each other and the flavors work well together. So when pairing a wine with your Thanksgiving or Chanuka meals, keep these things in mind. Generally for Turkey and cranberries I like to go for lighter fruity reds like Pinot Noir, Grenache, or Barbera or fragrant whites like Gewurztraminer or a well made Muscat, but hey, you know the rules, if you don’t like those, go make your own pairing!
[Posted on Koshertopia.com]
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
I had one of the most enjoyable wine experiences I’ve had in a while the other night when I met a UC Davis friend and her husband for some wine and appetizers in at Mike’s Bistro in New York. The food, as always, was delicious (pan seared sweetbreads, handmade duck gnocchi, and mushroom risotto with truffle oil) and the company was pleasant. The most remarkable part of the evening, however, was the wine.
The funny part is that the wine itself was remarkably unremarkable. It was a 2008 Borgo Reale Montepulciano. I can imagine readers thinking what a wine guy like me is doing choosing a simple country-style wine off of a fairly extensive wine list that includes some pretty serious bottles.
Here’s where the secret is. A wine doesn’t have to be an obscure knock-your-socks-off bottle to be enjoyable. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a great bottle of wine as much as the next wine guy, but sometimes drinking serious wine takes too much effort to enjoy. Serious wine is too cerebral for relaxing with friends; when I’m with friends I want a bottle I can just shut up and drink without too much analysis. No talk of berries, licorice, or cedar box. No contemplating whether the wine was aged in how many barrels of what kind of oak and for how long. No arguments over how the liquid in glass compares to the Platonic idea of Syrah or Chardonnay or whatever and definitely no numerical scores of how this wine would rate on a scale from 80-100 (because after all, that’s where just about all wines end up unless there is something really fundamentally wrong with it).
Wine was made to be drunk, especially together with food. Not every bottle worth drinking needs to be truly world class or get a certain rating from your favorite critic. It’s easy to get too caught up in all the brouhaha that surrounds wine to actually remember that from time to time. Personally, I certainly consider myself spoiled from drinking too much really good wine, which is why the simple bottle of Motepulciano I had the other night was such a wonderful reminder that simple wine with the right people and a good meal can be a great bottle too.
[Posted on Koshertopia.com]
Monday, January 24th, 2011
One of my biggest complaints about the kosher wine market is the pricing. It seems like it’s impossible to find good wines for under $30 and even some of those are pretty unremarkable.
If you consider the economics of it all, it kind of makes sense for a few reasons. Some examples of factors to think about:
(a) Kosher wine has a small group of loyal consumers built in. Kosher consumers aren’t going to suddenly start buying non-kosher wine if the pricing gets too high.
(b) Most kosher wines are made in places where land is relatively scarce and labor is relatively expensive like Israel, California, and Bordeaux.
(c) The small market means fewer wines to compete with and more hype for the few wines that might stand out from the small pool. Names like Castel and Covenant and Capcanes carry serious weight in the kosher market and can demand high pricing that would simply not be sustainable in the broader market.
(d) Shops that cater to kosher clientele purposely raise the prices of their kosher wines, sometimes using higher markups than their nonkosher wines. If you see inconsistent pricing in one state, this is sometimes the reason. (I started avoiding several shops in the New York area that specialize in kosher wine when this trend started a few years ago as high quality kosher wine became more popular.)
There are, however, some really solid Israeli wines that I know I can always enjoy without feeling like I paid too much. I define value not as the least expensive, but the ratio of quality to price.
Here’s a list of five of my favorite Israeli value wines. I did not indicate vintages since these wines are all really consistent in quality and price.
- Galil Mountain Yiron
The Galil Mountain Winery is all about value. They consistently make wines that are really good to great and don’t fit into the raise-your-prices-because-you-can model of other Israeli producers. Yiron, a Bordeaux-style blend (sometimes with a bit of Syrah thrown in), is quite possibly the biggest steal in Israeli wine. This wine is a perennial powerhouse, and it retails for $19.99-$23.00 at most online retailers.
- Recanati Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
This winery was established by Lenny Recanati of the well-known Israeli banking family with the mission of making great wines at affordable prices. The Reserve Cab is a fine example of Israeli Cabernet, with rich ripe fruit with gentle herbal undertones, and it retails for under $23 on kosherwine.com.
- Dalton Reserve Viognier
I tasted this wine blind a few months ago right after it came to America and was wowed. Over the past few years, Israeli winemakers have been experimenting with Viognier (pronounced “vee-own-YAY”), and this is my favorite example so far. Fermented with wild yeast (the yeast found on the grape skins in the vineyard) and partially fermented in French oak and aged on its lees for just a few months, this wine walks the line between fresh, full, and oaked perfectly. The best part is that it is available at skyviewwine.com for just $19.99.
- Yarden Odem Vineyard Chardonnay
This is a really interesting wine from Yarden series of the Golan Heights Winery, the producer that really sets the bar for quality and value in Israeli wine. This Chardonnay is made entirely from fruit from the Odem vineyard in the northern Golan Heights is organically farmed. It’s fermented in French oak and aged on its lees for seven months. At under $17 on kosherwine.com, it’s almost a must-try.
- Ella Valley Vineyards Syrah
In my mind, Syrah is a grape with great potential in Israel, especially in the Judean Hills. Ella Valley has been making some of the best wine in the Judean Hills since 2002. Their Syrah is rich and elegant, showing the promise of this grape in Israel. Most retailers sell this wine for about $30, but the new 2007 vintage available for $19.98 at winelibrary.com. At that price, there’s no reason it should not be sold out. Do yourself a favor buy some.
[posted on Koshertopia.com]
I’ve always thought of Daniel Rogov as an old timer. The leading Israeli wine critic won’t say how old he is, but let’s just say he could easily be my zaide, Brooklyn accent and all. Any converstation with the self-labeled curmudgeon is full of anecdotes from days of yore and quotes from people that chances are you’ve never heard of if you grew up with a computer.
A recent post by Avi Hein at HaKerem (a great Israeli wine blog that is worth following) really got me thinking that maybe Rogov is a little hipper than I have always given him credit for.
I first became acquainted with Rogov while living in Israel in 2003, just as I first became interested in wine. A stranger in a wine shop told me about a website called Strat’s Place, where I could get reviews of any Israeli wine I wanted.. I quickly became a frequenter of the site, and soon discovered Rogov’s forum. For anyone who may not know, Rogov’s forum is an online wine discussion group that focuses on Israeli and kosher wine, although the scope of discussion is open to any topic wine-related.
The forum essentially operates as a blog. Since 1997, Rogov has posted on the forum about the wines he tastes, places he visits, personalities in the wine world, or whatever is on his mind. Most posts spark discussion, which often carry on for multiple pages. As Hein’s post points out, through his forum, Rogov is always available to anyone who may want to contact him and happy to provide information, a tasting note, or a plain old honest opinion. In that way, Rogov’s been practicing all the web 2.0 nerds tweet and blog about over and over again: use the internet to always make yourself available, tell stories, and create a two-way discussion with your followers. In that way Rogov has been on the wine 2.0 bandwagon even longer than internet wine gurus Gary Vaynerchuk (2006), Alder Yarrow (2004), and even Tyler “Dr. Vino” Coleman (2002).
Personally, I have learned a lot from Rogov and his forum, especially when I was just beginning to learn about wine. If you want to learn more about wine and discuss with other wine lovers, check Rogov’s forum here.
Video bonus: Daniel Rogov hangs out with Gary Vaynerchuk on Wine Library TV