September 19, 2019

Yarden Wines’ Anne Markovich-Girard on Passover Wines and the Israeli Wine Industry

Courtesy of Yarden Wines

Passover is upon us! Coincidentally, Earth Day and other spring holidays will also be taking place during Passover week. For this year’s seder, you ought to consider sustainably-produced wines from Israel’s leading producers of fine wine: Golan Heights and Galil Mountain Wineries.

Known as Israel’s “wine country,” the aforementioned regions in northeastern Israel are celebrated for a range of terroirs and climates which account for great diversity in style. Yarden Wines encompasses Golan Heights Winery and Galil Mountain Winery, as located in the Golan Heights and Galilee regions of Israel, respectively. Both are imported by Yarden Inc.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Anne Markovich-Girard, vice-president of Sales for Yarden Wines. Highlights from that Q&A are below.

Jewish Journal: Passover is coming up very soon. Any idea where you’ll be spending Passover?

Anne Markovich-Girard: From the U.S. to Israel, our team will be spending the holiday with close friends and family.

JJ: Do you have a favorite Passover dish?

AM-G: We decided to have some fun with this question and made it a team effort. Dorit Ben Simon, our executive manager, enjoys lots of delicious dishes, her favorite being her mom’s Moroccan fish and beef stew – but of course can’t skip the matzo ball soup! Other team favorites include Mafrum (a Lebanese dish consisting of potatoes stuffed with meat in a tomato sauce), charoset, and gefilte fish.

JJ: You work with some of Israel’s leading producers of fine wine. When did you first become aware of Israeli wine country?

AM-G: Believe it or not, I first became aware of it in 2015!

And how did you wind up in the wine world?

AM-G: I followed an untraditional path. I have a degree in Fine Arts that led me to the service industry, exposing me to the world of wine. From there, I went on to get a degree in marketing and business from Northwestern University. I then encouraged and supported my friend’s business in Chicago, becoming her wine buyer. Through this experience, I realized I really enjoyed selling wine. I have been in the wine world since, emerging myself and becoming a certified sommelier.

JJ: As a certified sommelier, how would you describe the difference in taste between kosher wines and non-kosher wines?

AM-G: There is no difference predicated by that definition. Wines are defined by their terroir, not kosher versus non-kosher. The difference is when wine is “mevushal” as flash pasteurization arrests the development of the wine from further aging. It immaturely ages the wine, halting further evolution.

JJ: What about sustainable wines? Is that something you can easily taste?

AM-G: Sustainable farming is important is creating high-quality wine. But I think it would be impossible to taste this directly!

JJ: Golan Heights and the Galil Mountain Wineries are two of the popular wineries in Israel. Have you visited either of those vineyards before?

AM-G: Yes, of course! They are the Yarden wineries. The vineyards are very beautiful, and they are so close to many amazing destinations, like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Courtesy of Yarden Wines

JJ: What are some of your favorite Israel-related wines?

AM-G: My favorites are Yarden Blanc de Blancs, Yarden Brut Rosé, Galil Cabernet and Galil Blanc de Noir. 

JJ: Passover and kosher wine aside, what is coming up for Yarden Wines?

AM-G: We have our new partnership with Skurnik Wines, which we are very excited about – it is a great opportunity! We also have our winemakers visiting the United States in June. Victor Schoenfeld from Golan Heights Winery will be in Los Angeles and Micha Vaadia from Galil Mountain Winery will be in New York. 

JJ: Finally, Anne, any last words for the kids?

AM-G: If you have not tried Israeli wine, right now is a very exciting time to do so! Israel is an emerging wine region in the world.

More on Yarden Wines can be found online at www.yardenwines.com.