Once again this year, two wines from Napa Valley’s Hagafen Cellars were served at the annual White House Hanukkah party on Dec. 5.
Hagafen 2011 Napa Valley Merlot and Don Ernesto 2012 Collage Roussanne were served with latkes and other traditional fare alongside the lighting of Hanukkah menorahs in a celebration hosted by President Barrack Obama for a small group of family and friends.
“We are delighted and honored to be included in the presidential festivities again this year,” says winery founder Ernie Weir. “Since 1980, our wines have been proudly poured more than 25 times at the White House for frequent Israeli diplomatic functions as well as other cultural events during the terms of the last five Presidents. While the White House celebrates, so will all of us at the winery,” he added.
Obama had invited Omri Casspi, the Israeli basketball star who plays for the Houston Rockets, to be a guest at the festivities. Last year’s White House Hanukkah event included members of the Cabinet, Congress, two Supreme Court Justices and other Jewish leaders.
Hanukkah began on Nov. 27 and concluded on Dec 4. The dates for Hanukkah are determined by the Jewish lunar calendar, and change every year. This year, the timing is unusual: It hadn’t occurred on these dates since 1888.
The Hagafen 2011 Napa Valley Merlot is sourced from the Napa Valley and sells for $32 at the winery or online. “Merlot is a consistent fine red wine for which we have a wonderful following,” Weir said.
The Don Ernesto 2012 Collage Roussanne is sourced from Lodi and sells for $18. The wine is a blend of 85 percent roussanne and 15 percent marsanne.
Hagafen is the Hebrew word for “grapevine. Founded in 1979, Hagafen Cellars is owned and operated by Irit and Ernie Weir. Born in Los Angeles, Ernie Weir spent his college years searching to get back to the land. After visiting Napa in the early 1970s, he began work at Domaine Chandon while attending UC Davis’s viticulture and enology program, eventually earning his bachelor of science degree. in viticulture.
His first Hagafen vintage was in 1979. Over the next 20 years, Weir went on to become Chandon’s vineyard and nursery manager while expanding Hagafen’s production from 300 bottles in its first year to 300 cases in its second year to 3,000 cases by the end of the 1980s.
In 1997, he left Chandon to build the Hagafen Cellars winery and tasting room on Silverado Trail. Hagafen Cellars now has a yearly production of 8,000 cases, with an additional 1,000 cases of sparkling wine produced every four years.
With the recent acquisition and planting of Weir Family Vineyard Three, total Napa Valley acres under cultivation are now 20. Printed on the corks is the Hebrew word “L’Chayim” (“to life!”), a traditional Jewish toast.
The winery and tasting room are at 4160 Silverado Trail, Napa. The winery welcomes visitors by appointment between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.. Call 707-252-0781 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.