Wyldewood Cellars – A Unique Enterprise
Elderberries have been a companion to man since the stone age and grow wild in the temperature zones around the world.
They are a dark purple berry with many naturally occurring nutritional substances: Anthocyanins, Quercertin, Rutin, Polyphenols, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and are naturally low in sugar.
Interview with Christine Cunningham, Social Media Manager
KS: Tell us a bit about how you got started with Elderberry Wines.
CC: Wyldewood Cellars was originally created as a way to make the family farm in Eastern Kansas more profitable. Dr. John Brewer, one of the founders had been a wine-making hobbyist since grad school and after a friendly suggestion by Mike Martini of Louis Martin Winery in Napa Valley, CA, Dr. John started a year long process of market research before setting on making Elderberry Wines. He then spent 8 years and tried over 200 formulas – trying to make a high quality wine from elderberries. There were over 40 acres of wild elderberries just sitting on the family farm just waiting for the right idea to come along. Dr. John sent a bottle from the final batch to Mike, and Mike took it to a Napa Valley Wine Makers meeting. They loved the wine and said it definitely should be marketed.
KS: What sets Wyldewood wines apart from other non-grape wines and beverages?
CC: Wyldewood Cellars blends traditional wine making techniques, including oak aging, with the latest scientific advances, and modifies both for the particular berry to produce international award-winning wines from native fruit. We believe that taste is the most important quality in wine, but also understand that everyone has different tastes. We are lucky to have two Professional International Wine Judges on staff, Dr. John Brewer and his nephew Shawn. Producing our wines in a selection of sweetness levels provides each of us the exact blend of fruit, tannin, and sweetness that appeals to your individual tastes.
Until Wyldewood Elderberry Wines came along, the only commercially available Elderberry Wine was actually a Grape Wine flavored with artificial elderberry flavoring. We take pride in making the highest quality wines from the real fruits, berries, and juices. Our nearly 600 International and National competition medals and titles back that up. Our Elderberry Wines go from the very dry to the very sweet; Spiced (the official wine of the Olympic Village in 2002 Winter Olympics and “Best Non-Grape Wine in North and Latin America”). We now have a line of Meads – a honey based wine – as well.
KS: When did you get kosher certified and why did you decide to pursue certification?
CC: We were certified in November of 2016. We decided to pursue certification because we were already using all natural fruits and ingredients that were kosher. Through market research we saw that there were not many options in the Kosher Wine Market. Real Elderberry was not currently available to kosher homes, it was commonly a Grape Wine made with Elderberry Flavoring. Seeing as we were already using kosher ingredients we reached out to members in the local Jewish community to find out how to start the process.
KS: How would you describe your relationship with OK kosher and why did you choose the OK for your certification?
CC: We were looking into the certification process and realized that there are a lot of business out there that do kosher certification; not knowing which the best was, we went to a local rabbi and asked his opinion. He suggested OK Kosher. Working with OK Kosher has been rather easy, a very positive experience, and we would definitely recommend OK Kosher to others that are seeking to obtain kosher certification. They helped us thru every step and continue to support our efforts with new ideas and constant positive interactions.
KS: What has been the reaction by distributors and customers to your kosher certification?
CC: There has been a lot of excitement and increased marketing. Our Customers who do not follow the kosher standard know the quality that being kosher certified brings to our products. Our distributors are very happy to have that certification to use in marketing our products to the kosher community. It is opening new markets and new customers for us every day.
KS: What do you have in store for the future of Wyldewood Wines?
CC: We will continue to grow and develop new non-grape wines that we can produce according to kosher protocol. During OK Kosher’s most recent visit, the rabbi suggested having all of our non-grape wines certified kosher, so we are working to make that happen. We want this certification to be a great opportunity not only for Wyldewood Cellars, but also kosher communities who enjoy wine.
Visit www.wyldewoodcellars.com to find out more and to purchase their award winning, OK Kosher certified wines.
A few words from Rabbinic Coordinator, Rabbi Yoni Rappaport
A good working relationship is integral in order for a kosher program to be properly implemented at a facility. Thankfully working with Dr. John Brewer at Wyldewood Cellars has been a pleasure. Apart from his cooperation with kosher he is also extremely knowledgeable in food science in general, and is always available to share it.
Our kosher program is not only focused on what is kosher but also on what is not kosher. Wyldewood Cellars produces wines from different fruits, with about 5% of the production being from grape that isn’t kosher. The grape wine is produced on a different floor than the kosher production, and is produced in dedicated fermentation and aging tanks that are clearly marked.
The mashgiach knows ahead of time when the grape wine will be produced. He inspects all the tanks to confirm that no grape is produced in kosher tanks, and that no kosher product is being produced in grape tanks. Additionally he will review their production records, which are kept for the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB). These inspections will happen throughout the year, not only during the grape season.
PLEASE NOTE: Elderberry wine cannot be used for Kiddush and the blessing recited over it is Shehakol, though it can still be enjoyed (responsibly) for a L’chaim.