Owner and operator, Hagafen Cellars
This week, Ira spoke with Ernie Weir (aka Don Ernesto), who, along with his wife Irit, own and operate Hagafen Cellars, located in Napa Valley, California. In this sparkling episode of Ira’s Everything Bagel, Ernie talks about his decision to leave Los Angeles and enter the world of wine in Northern California; his development of Hagafen Cellars, which became the first kosher winery in California; why he chose to produce high quality kosher wine; the popularity of the wine and its serving at the White House for special guests; the meaning of the wine’s label; dealing with the challenges of wine growing; competition, cooperation and challenges in Napa Valley (including fires and earthquakes); the popularity of sparkling wine; why wine clubs were developed; why marketing is always a challenge; and who is Don Ernesto?
Hagafen Cellars was founded in 1979, and the first commercially released vintage was harvested in 1980. In the ensuing years, Hagafen has grown from a small partnership producing wine with grapes from Winery Lake Vineyard – then owned by Rene DiRosa – to a well-established wine company whose wines are distributed throughout North America and overseas. The cornerstone of their lives are the Silverado Trail winery and tasting room and their two estate vineyards in the eastern benchland of the Napa Valley. Ernie’s daily involvement is in the two sides of wine production, grape growing and winemaking-and he communicates daily in three languages!