New options for Canadian kosher wine and cheese lovers

Nature’s Best Cheese's line of cholov Yisra’el cheeses. NATURE'S BEST CHEESE PHOTO

For the first time ever, connoisseurs of the grape can enjoy an Ontario-produced mevushal wine – and a cholov Yisroel cheese to go along with it.

Tzafona Cellars, a Canadian kosher wine producer, is launching Nava Wine, while Nature’s Best Cheese is doing the same with its line of cholov Yisroel cheeses.

The wine will allow “patrons of kosher restaurants and attendees at celebrations (to) have access to the best kosher wine the Niagara Region has to offer,” said Toby Berkal, co-owner of Tzafona Cellars.


The wine, likely to be available in a month or two, will also be sold at retail outlets, Berkal added.

Mevushal wine, loosely translated, means boiled or cooked wine.

Under the laws of kashrut, boiling a wine allows non-Jewish wine makers and employees to handle a wine barrel and take a sample. It can also allow someone who is not Sabbath-observant to pour the wine, something that cannot be done with non-mevushal wine.

Barrels of wine sit at the Tzafona Cellars winery in Niagara Region, Ont. TZAFONA CELLARS PHOTO

Critics of mevushal wines say the cooking process can alter the flavour – and not for the better – but according to Berkal, “Nava has been pasteurized using a unique flash pasteurization process, ensuring the wine does not lose any of its high quality taste profile.”

Tzafona Cellars already produces several kosher wines on the Niagara Peninsula, including a Riesling, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Vidal ice wine.

As for the cheeses, Ari Lipsey, a partner with Joe Bitton in Nature’s Best, said that kosher consumers will quickly be able to ascertain the difference between the imported American cholov Yisroel cheeses and the three new ones they are introducing.

‘It has the great artisanal taste of a Canadian cheese.’

“Often these imports have a ‘processed’ taste, which anyone who has taken on cholov Yisroel immediately recognizes. The ones that don’t are often very expensive. We worked with the cheese makers to make a cholov Yisroel product that tasted like a proper Canadian cheese. We worked with numerous organizations, including various dairy farmer organizations, to make the cheese at a reasonable price,” Lipsey stated.

Cholov Yisroel is a halachic term that refers to dairy products that come from milk that was produced under Jewish supervision.

“Nature’s Best Cheese is made with 100 per cent Canadian milk, all from the same farm. Our milk has been tested and is antibiotic free, hormone free and steroid free, in line with high Canadian standards,” said Lipsey. “Our milk comes from a single Canadian, Jewish-owned dairy farm, providing a consistency to the milk.”

Visitors sample wine at the Tzafona Cellars winery in Niagara Region, Ont. TZAFONA CELLARS PHOTO

The cheese should also appeal to anyone interested in eating locally produced foods and helping the environment, Lipsey suggested.

“Both the farm and the cheese factory are located within a two hour radius from Toronto, making it a significantly lower carbon footprint product than American imports.

“It has the great artisanal taste of a Canadian cheese, being produced in specialty cheese factory, not a mass producing facility,” he added.

Grapes grow at the Tzafona Cellars winery in Niagara Region, Ont. TZAFONA CELLARS PHOTO

The cheeses will be available at major chains that carry kosher products, as well as at smaller retailers.

Kosher supervision for Nature’s Best is provided by Toronto-based Agudas Shomrei Hadas and MK, a kashrut certifier located in Montreal.

The Kashruth Council of Canada, which operates as COR, and Mehadrin Toronto, provide kosher certification for Tzafona Cellars wines.