KFWE 2019 Tour Part 1: Overview

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted – but they have been pretty eventful. Sometime last year I decided that this year I would attend as many of this year’s Kosher Food and Wine Expo events as possible. 2 things prevented me from attending all of them:

  1. Paris and Tel Aviv took place on the same night – well, this was an easy choice – Paris is NOT an official KFWE event – and I live in Israel so attending the Tel Aviv was a gimme.
  2. Miami took place on chanukah this year – not at all in close proximity to the other KFWE’s and quite frankly at a time that I like to be with my family even more than I like drinking wine, on the other handit officially took place in 2018 so I guess my 2019 record is still unblemished…

So other than Miami and Paris I attended the other 4 KFWE’s – and this was right after having gone to Israel’s Sommelier show and organizing an Elvi vertical the week before. So it’s been a busy month indeed. Besides the KFWEs (or more accurately because of them) I also attended a number of wine dinners and tastings in the various locales and in general had an excellent time hanging out and being on tour. While I will post about these events chronologically (Tel Aviv, London, NY and then LA – with all of the in between events in their proper order), I will write a single general post about the wines the majority of which are the same event to event.

As an overview though, let me say that for the most part all of these events are run professionally. While not all of the pourers are knowledgeable, there are plenty of people on hand to accurately answer questions about the wines. Where possible, quality control is adhered to and bottles are checked on open to make sure no one is pouring bad wine. When a bad bottle does slip through, which inevitably will happen at events of this size and scope, they are pulled without question. That’s not say there isn’t room for improvement here and there – and I’ll point that out on the specific posts – but it’s a very impressive operation run really, really well.

Now I can tell you that the average drinker or enthusiast does NOT need to attend all KFWE’s. In fact for all but people who are closely following the market or are somehow related to it in some ancillary fashion, one KFWE is enough to get a handle on what Royal is putting out this year. That being said, for those of us following the kosher wine scene closely there is plenty to be learned from attending the different events. For instance, perhaps unsurprisingly but without even looking at any hard numbers, one can infer that Israel drinks the most white wine and England drinks the least. How? Well the current vintage in for Covenant’s Lavan Chardonnay in Israel is 2016 (no – Zur does NOT distribute Covenant in Israel, but Sommelier was the week before KFWE Tel Aviv…) . In England it’s still 2014 (with NY showing 2015). In Israel they are pouring the 2017 Les Marronniers Chablis – London was the 2016. In Israel (though again not via Zur), the 2017 Netofa Tel Qasser Roussanne is the current vintage – in London the 2016 is still being poured (but hey – London can’t complain – at least they get Netofa imported – the US still does not). My point is, if you pay attention, you can certainly learn quite a bit about the market.

The other big plus to going to all of these events is the people that you meet and get to spend time with. First there are the people that you get to meet in each locale – some of whom you see infrequently at best and others meeting face to face for the first time. As I have said time and time again, wine brings people together and I have met such high quality people through our mutual love of wine and this is true in each and every city that I visited. Secondly there are the people you are ostensibly touring with – the winemakers, the wine bloggers and a one or two truly crazy wine geeks whop go to multiple events. As with any road trip, you bond with the people who are sharing these epic experiences with you and that certainly happened for me. Acquaintances turned into friendships – and friendships that were close became closer. It was just a remarkable experience. My thanks to Gabriel Geller of Royal who helped get me set up for all of this with press passes.

David Cohen of Elvi Wines

A huge shout out to David Cohen of Elvi Wines. He spent the last semester abroad attending Texas A&M but it now returning to Spain to continue his studies. Between semesters he basically embarked on the same crazy wine tour as I did. Of course for him it is as part of the family business and he was working most of the time. But he is the only person who I can think of who was at literally every tour event that I will write about – and actually was at the preceding 2 events that I posted about – Sommelier 2019 and of course the recent Elvi Double Vertical we held in Jerusalem. Not even David’s father Moises made it to all of these events (the slacker missed LA). He’s a cool kid. Was great spending the last couple of weeks with him and of course with the rest of the touring crew – Yossie Horwitz of Yossie’s Corkboard, David Raccah of Kosher Wine Musings and Simon Jacob who in a word is just awesome – no affiliation necessary.

Next up – KFWE Tel Aviv hosted by Zur World of Wine.

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