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Fruitful Venture

Refoel Pride

Yaakov Berg didn’t set out to make award-winning wines, but the Moscow native followed his passion with patience and, with a little Divine guidance, created a boutique winery that punches above its weight.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

“It started as a hobby,” jokesYaakovBerg, the personable but passionate founder and CEO of Psagot Boutique Winery as he surveys the sun-drenched view of the Nachal Prat valley from the dining room of his visitors’ center. “And then it became a problem.” Psagot, a yishuv situated some 15 miles due north of Jerusalem in the Binyamin hills, has been home toYaakov’s winery since 2003. The intervening dozen years have seen the winery grow from an annual production of 3,000 bottles — mainly for family and friends — to last year’s output of 250,000 bottles. Although that figure puts Berg’s operation in the category of a “boutique winery” — by comparison, Carmel Wineries, Israel’s biggest player, supplies 15 million bottles annually — Psagot punches above its weight in international competitions, consistently winning gold medals and earning the respect of oenophiles worldwide. Its latest entry, just in time for Shavuos, is a much-anticipated 2014 vintage white Voignier, harvested from an older section of the vineyard. Through it all,YaakovBerg has invested time, money, and no small amount of back-breaking labor to forge a personal connection with his customers and thereby close a circuit that runs through the Land of Israel, the wine it produces, and the mitzvos that bind the land to its people. It’s an effort that seems to bear more and more fruit each passing year.

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