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A TRIBUTE TO DANIEL ROGOV
At sunset August 29th, at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv, a virtual who\'s who in Israeli wine attended a tribute to veteran food & wine critic Daniel Rogov. It was especially moving to see how many turned out since we\'re in the middle of harvest season in Israel and many of the winemakers are in crunch time working long days and into the night to insure their vineyards yield desired results. Nevertheless, almost every winemaker of note came to show their appreciation to the man who blazed the trail for discussions about Israeli wines and Israeli cuisine.
Close to three decades of Rogov\'s writing weekly newspaper columns and more recently yearly guides brought both attention and reflection on Israel as an emerging wine region into today when Israel has become accepted as a region that has come of age by the international wine press. Britain\'s Hugh Johnson, who publishes the world\'s best selling international wine guide, and Mark Squires, who writes about Israeli wines for Robert Parker\'s Wine Advocate, both sent their praise for the most prolific writer about Israeli and kosher wines. America\'s most popular and influential wine enthusiast, Gary Vaynerchuk, sent a video tribute, mentioning his affection for Daniel who had appeared on Gary\'s Daily Grape video podcast while visiting the United States. Jay Buschbaum, of Kedem wines (the largest importer of Israeli wines into the United States) also sent his regrets for not attending (Hurricane Irene was to blame) and his appreciation for how Rogov\'s reviews were critical to Israeli wines gaining acceptance in Israel\'s largest overseas marketplace.
Adam Montefiore, who as spokesman for now Carmel and previously the Golan Heights Winery and as an unofficial ambassador for Israeli wine, has known Daniel for decades also took to the stage to impart kind words about a fellow Anglo immigrant whose substantial contribution to Israeli wine was needed if not always appreciated in the moment by wineries who came into Daniel\'s focus. Also from Carmel were winemaker Lior Laxer and CEO Israel Ivzan and sister boutique winery Yatir\'s laudable winemaker Eran Goldwasser. Carmel\'s 2008 Single Vineyard Kayoumi Shiraz was one of the special treats served throughout the evening.
American born and trained Victor Schoenfeld, the winemaker of the Golan Heights Winery for the last twenty years, spoke eloquently about how his and Rogov\'s career had mirrored each others for so many years and how Israeli wine had no better advocate and champion during the years it transformed itself from a region associated with making religious sacramental wines to the region it is today noted for making a wide selection of quality wines in different styles and from dozens of grape varietals. Tal Sendovski, Golan Height\'s winemaker in charge of research and Israel\'s first woman winemaker, was also at Victor\'s table. Boutique winemakers Uri Hetz of Chateau Golan and Tal Pelter of the Pelter Winery also made the drive down from the Golan Heights for the occasion.
From the Barkan Winery, another of Israel\'s women winemakers Irit Boxer was present representing Israel\'s second largest winery. Barkan\'s Altitude 412 Cabernet Sauvignon and their Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve also filled a lot of glasses throughout the evening. Winemaker Na\'ama Sorkin of the Galilee\'s Dalton Winery, whose wines have been winning more and more favorable reviews from Daniel, joined Roni Saslove of the Saslove Winery and Illana Rabau of the Alona Winery as other \"daughters of the vine\" in attendance. Roni\'s father winemaker Barry and mother Nili also represented their family winery with several vineyards most notably their Kadita vineyard. Tsina Avidan from the increasingly heralded Avidan Winery, a neighbor of the Saslove Winery, filled in the mix of Israel\'s women winemakers who came to applaud their most ardent suitor, well at least of their wines.
And if one mentions the Kadita vineyard, no discussion would be complete without mentioning the Margalit Winery, Israel\'s first boutique winery going back to 1989. Margalit has been a perennial favorite of Rogov\'s going back to when Ya\'ir Margalit founded Israel\'s first boutique winery. Ya\'ir\'s son Assaf Margalit, who took over in 2000 as senior winemaker took an evening off from what is a slightly delayed harvest this vintage as the summer has been unseasonably temperate. Ya\'ir was also the first winemaker at the Tishbi Winery, and it\'s present winemaker, Golan Tishbi, the winemaker since 2000 also came to pay his respect from Israel\'s largest family owned and operated winery.
When one mentions Margalit, often Domaine du Castel is also mentioned as a friendly rival and the Ben Zaken family was present with affable and soft spoken founder Eli one of the many well reviewed winemakers showing their appreciation to a man who showed his appreciation for Castel wines in print for years. South African born Paul Dubb, the former viticulturalist of the Castel Winery and the present winemaker of the up and coming Tzuba Winery came into Tel Aviv from the Judean Hills as well as vineyard pioneer Prof. Ben-Ami Bravdo and his daughter Hadar from Karmei Yosef\'s Bravdo Winery.
Additionally, the winemakers from Binyamina, Vitkin, Clos de Gat, Ramat Naftali, Galil Mountain, Recanati, Lewinsohn, Seahorse, Teperberg, Psagot, La Terra Promesa and the whole Flam family helped round out what was touching affair. Several of Israel\'s most famous chef\'s and foodies were also in tow including Alon Gonen as well as many of Daniel\'s peers in wine media, from print, radio and the internet including the tribute\'s host Meni Peer
Rogov, as he likes to call himself, was visibly moved by the turnout, the kind words and anecdotes offered and spoke briefly but poignantly at the end of the tribute with many of those attending staying late to commune with Daniel as the event came to a close. Even though over the years, those in attendance haven\'t always agreed with each every one of Daniel\'s reviews, all agree on his influence and impact in an industry that they hold dear and many acknowledge the role he played in their wines and cooking gaining popularity.