Gershon Bachus embraces kosher-style winemaking, autonomy

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Gershon Bachus Vintners features an impressive lineup of aged red wines at the winery that are made in the kosher-style. Valley News/Jeff Pack photo

Since 2014, Gershon Bachus Vintners has been making its wines in a kosher-style, paying homage to the namesake the winery on the De Portola Trail in Temecula Wine Country.

Gershon Bachus is the grandfather of Kenny Falik, who owns the winery with his wife, Christina Falik.

“We felt that we should honor the heritage of the man as well as the wine,” Falik said. “So, we thought that this would be a nice way to bring in some of our history, our ancestry and our culture to our business. The business is benign; it doesn’t matter whether you’re Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or otherwise. It just means your passion, your integrity of making fine wine is what really makes the wine sell. Not whether or not it’s kosher or non-kosher, but for the small population that wants that, we wanted to make sure that we were doing that. and whether or not it’s, um, it’s a, you know, whether it’s, you can’t find your return on the investment of doing it.”

Falik is quick to point out the differences between being kosher and kosher-style and why they made the decision to go kosher-style. She said a lot of the reason has to do with being able to create a better-tasting wine and avoiding having to abide by all the Orthodox Union rules of how their wines are made, including pasteurization.

“We are not devout Jews. We’re Jewish by nature, but we’re not devout,” Falik said. “In order to be Orthodox, you would have to be devout. That means that everybody that picks the grapes, everyone that works on the grapes and everybody that pours the wine has to be Jewish. We don’t have that option here.”

The winery’s rabbi is Rabbi Mark Rubenstein of Congregation B’nai Chaim, and he inspects everything at the winery to ensure they doing everything by the book.

It appears they are doing things right at Gershon Bachus because they will be hosting a free members party – guests are $30 per person – Saturday, Jan. 25. They will have traditional Jewish foods and, of course, their wines on hand for their guests to enjoy.

“The food’s going to be incredible, the wines outstanding,” Falik said. “It’s going to be, a good event and inexpensive for somebody that understands Jewish food.”

Falik said the winery has a membership base that is close to 1,000 members, which is an impressive number for a winery that doesn’t allow bus tours and started out just more than a decade ago by doing tastings by appointment only.

It is an intimate, calm experience that the Faliks want for their members.

“At the beginning, we were appointment only primarily because we were trying to keep our wine in barrel and in bottle aging so that when we did open it was going to be perfectly beautiful,” Christina Falik said. “After we eliminated the appointment only, we determined that by minimizing the party buses and the party people, while it turns away some people, for the people that are loyal here, our members, our clickers. They appreciate it.”

This year they completed the building of a barrel room on the property which allows them to begin saving storage facility money and have greater autonomy.

“We hold 308 barrels in the racks, but we do all the work on the spot so we don’t ever have to move the barrel unless we’re getting rid of it,” winemaker Dakota Denton said while standing in the new facility, which can be used in tours and during weddings on the property.

According to Falik, the rack system they brought in from France was more expensive than the building itself, but it eliminated the cost of storing wine at nearby wineries as they had been.

It also affords Denton the benefit of having more time with his wines as he doesn’t have to travel between facilities to monitor and work on the wines.

“You have your own home,” Falik said. “The temperature is being controlled; you know that everything is within your powers to make the wine great. There’s absolutely no guesswork. We know that if something happens with heat or whatever, it’s up to us.”

At Gershon Bachus, they believe that good things are built over time.

“I think that’s one of the benefits we have here is we’ve been slowly building up, so we started out with 500 cases a year and we just slowly increase that every year to match with the amount of customers coming through,” Denton said.

“This year we made about 4,000 cases, 3,700 cases,” Falik said.

After what Falik said was a good harvest of full, juicy grapes this year, she expects to see some great wines coming out of the winery – with one more change included.

“One of the other things that we’ve decided as of this year is we will no longer be serving white wine in the tasting room,” Falik said. “We will be all reds. That is our focus. That is our passion.”

They will produce from 12 red varietals from grapes grown on the property and grapes purchased from nearby properties. Denton said he can almost see all the grapes they buy from the Gershon Bachus Vintners property.

“We will make a small batch of white wine for the events that we do, where that’s necessary,” Falik said. “But in the tasting room, we’ll be all red. Only big bold reds. We’re starting with light reds and going to the boldest of reds.”

Gershon Bachus Vintners is at 37750 De Portola Road in Temecula. For more information, visit www.gershonbachus.com or call (877) 458-8420.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.