From J-Weekly by Dan Pine:
The first time Chaim Zaklos checked on his cellared vats of cabernet sauvignon, something unexpected happened.
“During the fermentation stage, the smell is very strong,” recalled the Vacaville-based rabbi of Chabad of Solano County. “It actually got me high.”
Since he took up winemaking more than a year ago, the entire enterprise has put the 32-year-old Zaklos in an altered state of joy.
Zaklos is one of a handful of Northern California Chabad rabbis dabbling in the kosher winemaking arts. Living as they do in wine country, the fruit of the vine calls out to these rabbis with every simcha and Shabbat dinner.
Their winemaking ranges from bathtub batches to small-boutique output, and one that is produced commercially and sold internationally (Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum’s Cuvée Chabad in Napa).
But all of the rabbis agree that working the earth, handling the grapes and bringing forth a drinkable wine — a product venerated in Jewish tradition — has been deeply, spiritually satisfying.