Wine 2 minutes 05 March 2024

How this Luxury Cabo Resort Came to Offer a Three-Page Kosher Wine List

It's kosher at Las Ventanas al Paraíso, a Rosewood Resort

Genevieve Rioux knows a thing or too about wine—prior to joining Las Ventanas al Paraíso, a Rosewood Resort as the wine director of the Los Cabos resort (she’s also the area director of wine for the Americas for the Rosewood brand), she held head sommelier positions at premier restaurants and resorts from St. Barths to the Seychelles for over a decade.

Always one to accept a challenge, Rioux’s latest project stemmed from her frustration with wine lists that typically only offer one or two Kosher wines. “Over the years we have been building a wine program that is meant to represent a large category of wine from exceptional Grand Cru to niche producers, giving attention as well to skin contact, organic, biodynamic and natural wines,” shares Rioux about the motivation to feature more Kosher wines. “Integrating a Kosher wine program was an essential part of the wine mosaic that we are building.”

Rioux began sourcing for the Kosher wine program at the beginning of 2022 and took a few months to ensure they’d be offering product that was quality and would fight the bad reputation that’s typically associated with Kosher wine. “In the past the wine was overly sweet and of lower quality. There was a limited selection as well,” explains Rioux about the misconception that prompts misunderstanding of today’s modern Kosher producers. “The techniques and quality drastically changed in the past couple of decades, and we can now find great kosher wine from different countries. I am trying to get as much diversity as possible and to keep the list constantly evolving.”

Rioux recently added Kosher wines by the glass, with an offer of white, rosé and reds, contributing to the now three-page Kosher wine list that’s available at Rosewood Las Ventanas al Paraiso’s bar and restaurants. Below, Rioux shares more about the project of sourcing along with a few Kosher labels and producers she’s particularly excited about. 

What was the sourcing process like? 

After some research among the Kosher wine community in the U.S., I finally got a contact in Mexico. From there we continued to develop the offering through our own importing license that we were able to secure here at Las Ventanas, which allows us to have a more diverse offering than some of our neighbors.

Did you learn anything surprising or outstanding during sourcing? 

It was fascinating to learn how much the Kosher wine industry has been developing since the 80s, in Israel especially. Originally associated with mostly sweet wines, we’re now seeing a myriad of more classic wine profiles in the category, from Champagne Drappier to white and rosé. A few examples:

Covenant Lavan Chardonnay 2020 from Sonoma, California
Ramon Cardova Albariño from Riax Baixa in Spain

Golan Height Mount Hermon Cabernet Sauvignon 2021, from Galilé, Israel
Terra di Seta, Chianti Classico Reserva 2020, from Tuscany, Italy 

© Las Ventanas al Paraiso
© Las Ventanas al Paraiso

What defines a quality Kosher wine? 

Non Mevushal wine always tends to provide higher quality wine. But with the improvement of flash-pasteurization techniques, Mevushal wine is now showing high quality as well. After quality, we look at aspects the same way we do with a non-Kosher wine: Balance, expressive, elegant and vibrant. 

What are some characteristics specific to a Kosher wine?

Kosher wine is produced following the Kashrut, the Jewish dietary law. In the vineyard it has to observe the laws of Orlah which prohibit the use of grapes grown during the first three years. The winemaking process from crushing to bottling must be handled by Sabbath-observant Jews. The ingredients added have to be Kosher as well, such as yeasts and fining agents, as well as cleaning products used in the process of winemaking. Certain organic compounds are forbidden too such as isinglass, gelatin and casein.

Kosher for Passover must have been kept free from bread, dough or grain products, and non-kosher agents. The wine has to receive a certification with a seal of approval called a hechsher. 

© Las Ventanas al Paraiso
© Las Ventanas al Paraiso

Are there any vintages or labels you find particularly impressive? 

Hajdu Wines in California. They are making fantastic wine (and a Vermouth!) that I would love to import.

Is there an educational component to the wine list?

All wines are identified from their grapes, regions, vintages and we indicate if they are Mevushal or Non Mevushal. We like to take a personal approach in guiding the guest’s selection, and I personally love the surprise and delight element. You usually order the most expensive bottle on the list? We might offer you something new and unexpected that you enjoy even more. After all, our chefs on property are serving a myriad of different cuisines – from wok and tandoor cooking at Arbol, to ceviche and Mexican specialties at Sea Grill – we have the right wine for an afternoon by the pool or a multicourse meal into the night. 

© Las Ventanas al Paraiso
© Las Ventanas al Paraiso

Hero image: © Las Ventanas al Paraiso

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