A 2014 Israeli Cabernet Sauvignon from Drimia Winery won first place at the 10th annual European Sacral Wine Competition in the Czech Republic, which compared 130 wines used for sacramental purposes in different religious traditions.
In a blind taste test of wines from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, and Israel, the kosher red wine was chosen as the winner, with a score of 93/100.
Israeli ambassador to the Czech Republic Daniel Meron accepted the award on behalf of Drimia. Meron and the Israeli ambassador to Hungary were among the panel of judges, which included expert tasters and representatives of religion and business. All in all, 58 kosher Israeli wines were entered in the competition, with 20 of them winning medals.
Kosher wine is traditionally used in the Jewish ritual of Kiddush, a Jewish blessing recited over wine to sanctify the Jewish Sabbath and holidays. While saying Kiddush is a commandment from the Torah, Drimia Winery owner Elad Movshoviz also sees wine as a natural sanctifier and connector of people.
“Wine represents everything that is one step beyond,” he told Breaking Israel News. There is the everyday, and then there are special things. That is what wine is. Wine was used in the Temple, but it is also what brings family and friends together.”
The competition took place in Velehrad during its annual pilgrimage. Velehrad is often called the ‘spiritual and religious center’ of the Czech Republic, with its Velehrad Monastery and basilica attracting tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims each year.
The European Sacral Wine Competition is the only competition of its kind in the world. Competition director Petr Hudec commented, “For 10 years, we have been persuaded that even among wines made according to the Canon or the Torah, there are many that delight in their aroma and flavor, regardless of their original destination.”
Movshoviz was born in Susiya, which is located in the southern Judean Mountains, and grew up around wine, as his father owned vineyards in the area. After learning winemaking in Tel Chai, Movshoviz worked at Yatir Winery in Tel Arad and ran the vineyards in Maon. When it came time to establish his own winery, Susiya was the natural choice of location for Drimia Winery.
“I feel at home here,” Movshoviz said. “It is also a wonderful place to grow grapes. At 800 meters, we have the cold night that is necessary, and we are in the desert so we also have the sun.”
Drimia produces 15,000 bottles of certified kosher wine each year, using only environmentally friendly ingredients.
Like the competition, Movshoviz’s winery is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. In light of its success, Movshoviz is convinced that Israel’s “start up nation” mentality contributed to his win.
“We are a very young winery,” said Movshoviz. “This is only our seventh season making wines. But Israel is the start-up nation. We have the ability to do amazing things in a very short period of time – in 2012 we won in the Terravino contest, and in 2014 we won in the Golden Eshkol contest,” he told Breaking Israel News. “I strongly believe in my dream, and this has given me the courage to move forward quickly.”
Although there was no monetary prize and Movshoviz was unable to attend the contest, as it was held on the Jewish Sabbath, it was “a great honor to win,” said Movshoviz.
“The beautiful thing about the contest was that it connected religions,” Movshoviz told Breaking Israel News. “Wine is something very essential in worship, and you can choose to use it as a source of division or as a point of connection,” he pointed out. “I prefer to connect.”