Uptick in Kosher Wine Sales as the New Year Approaches

The Jewish High Holy Days start on Sept. 22, 2017, with the New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and lasts until sundown on Sept. 30 when Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement ends. The eight-day period is expected to account for about 20 percent of all kosher wine sold in 2017, according to an executive with the largest importer of such wines.

The timing of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, like most Jewish holidays (and the Christian Easter holiday), is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes annually. Sometimes, it can begin in the first week of September.

Jay Buchsbaum, executive vice president of marketing at Royal Wine Corporation, said the relatively late timing of the holidays this year has sparked an uptick in sales.

“This year it is later in September… People are back from vacation and ready to buy and have more time to do it, “Buchsbaum said. “Whenever this happens we expect a very strong season. Coupled with the general growth in kosher wine in both quality and quantity and we expect as much as a 20 percent increase in sales.”

While kosher wine sales account for a fraction of the total wine sold in the United States, the kosher-wine industry as a whole has seen growth of about 20 percent per year over the past five years. Gabriel Geller, Royal’s public relations director, attributes the growth to two trends: One, wine consumers in general are discovering Israeli wine, the majority of which is kosher, and tow, American wine drinkers who keep kosher drink more per capita than the average wine consumer.

“Americans drink 8–10 liters [of wine] annually, while [kosher wine drinkers] consume 15–20,” Geller said.

Kosher wines’ reputation and reality have moved from sweet, syrupy brands, such as Manischewitz and Kedem, to dry wines of world-class quality. In addition to wine from Israel, quality kosher wines are produced in California, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa and New Zealand.

But since this is the New Year, the company has “our biggest bump in sweet and dessert wines since many celebrating the holiday drink a sweet wine specifically as a ‘sign and hope for a sweet New Year,’” Buchsbaum said.

“Reds still reign supreme, with rosé now taking a big chunk, and whites are actually in third place this year,” he said.

But Geller noted, “Rosé is definitely a trend that has reached the kosher market…In one year we from nine to 26 rosés in the portfolio and it’s a big hit.”

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