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From Humble Beginnings...

Owned and operated by Irit and Ernie Weir, Hagafen Cellars was founded in 1979. With the thought of inclusion at the forefront, the young couple aimed to create a one-of-a-kind wine brand that appealed to just about everyone.

At the time, the wine industry has very few options for high-quality Kosher wines, especially from the sought-after Napa Valley region; as a nod to their shared heritage, it was the Weir's mission to change that! Partnering with the rabbinic Agency, the Orthodox Union (OU), the Weirs set off on their journey to forever change the world of wine, becoming Napa's first Kosher winery.

Purchasing a few acres of land off Napa's Silverado Trail in 1986, the Weir family began transforming the property into the serene hidden game that is still thriving today! Inspired by the lively culture and artistic flair of Irit's homeland, Tel Aviv, Israel the ambiance and decor at Hagafen are reminiscent of the ancient Mediterranean paradise. Hung upon the walls of the winery you can even snag a peek at some of Irit's unique artwork. If you're lucky enough to visit in April, you may even get to meet the artist herself! Click here to learn more about Irit's artwork. In the ensuing years, the business slowly grew from a small partnership to an established & respected boutique wine brand.

...To Whitehouse Involvement

Since 1980, Hagafen wines have been served to numerous foreign dignitaries at the U.S. White House on various occasions. At the time, the Weir's were fortunate enough to meet with the Head Usher, Daniel Shanks, who was intrigued by the young couple's vision of a more intentional and inclusive wine industry. Given that only U.S. wines are served at the White House state dinner, Shanks believed that Hagafen wines made a wonderful addition to the Capital's wine list, especially since they were one of the very few Kosher wine options at the time! With the finest Napa Valley fruit and a passion for high-quality winemaking, the Weir's produced several varietals over the years that have been served and enjoyed from the Reagan administration onward!

As one can imagine, a meeting of world leaders can oftentimes become quite what better tool to diffuse tensions than some fine Napa wines! In an interview, Daniel Shanks expressed his viewpoint on the importance of keeping the White House ambiance light: "A perfectly aged Cabernet may be great in a glass, but it can't stand up to the intense atmosphere of a White House state dinner. You have to have something with youth and vigor!" He goes on to note that wine plays an important role in these tense meetings of world leaders: "A state dinner isn't about food and wine, it's about bonding time, a country or issue is driving it, and the wine has to augment that." While Shanks may have retired in late 2017, his idea to showcase where American wines are going, not where they've been, remains present in the Capital's philosophy of wine to this day.

Dedicated to a Greener Napa Valley...

...the Weir family is quick to embrace new and innovative practices, not only at the winery, but in their personal lives as well. Over the years, they've grown a variety of different grapes on both the winery property and on the land surrounding their charming estate, always with the intent of preserving the nature landscapes. When asked about Ernie's farming techniques, he stated, "Fine wine starts in the vineyard, requiring careful management. I strive to take advantage of Napa Valley's geology and climate to produce the best wine varietals. I interfere as little as possible with the soil in order to create a balance that minimizes the chemical and erosion impact."

As a sustainable green winery, a respect for the values of conservation are essential! Hagafen Cellars belongs to several environmentally-conscious groups that focus on environmental stewardship, including, Napa Green, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), and Bee Friendly Farmers (BFF) just to name a few. For more details, click this link.

At the end of the day, the team at Hagafen is dedicated to sustainability. From recycling paper products from the tasting room to hosting composting demonstrations with Napa County officials, Hagafen is as green as can be.

Overcoming Obstacles...all part of the job!

While preserving the natural environment of the Napa Valley is vital to the world-famous wine region's success, there's only so much one can do to protect it from unpredictable acts of Mother Nature. From the occasional earthquake and wildfire, to operating a business during a pandemic, Hagafen has survived it all.

As a California native, Ernie Weir is no stranger to living with the occasional earthquake. However, in 2014, his resilience was tested when the Napa Valley was hit by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake! Between the collapsed buildings and surface road ruptures throughout town, the Weir's counted themselves lucky that that they only sustained minimal damages.

The other more notable challenge the Weir's have faced was the Atlas Peak fire of 2017, in which their property sustained significant damage. The more crucial losses were the cottage on the Southern end of the estate, about 5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vines, and over 90% of the red wines from the 2017 harvest! While a tragedy like this would have left many folks feeling like throwing in the towel, Ernie and Irit literally rolled up their sleeves, cleaned up the debris, and began to rebuild their estate.

Fast-forward a few years, and another treacherous wildfire decided to leave a mark on the beloved Napa Valley! While the wildfires of 2020 did not burn the property directly, the persistent lingering smoke from the nearby Glass Fire & Lightning Complex Fire is what impacted the Hagafen Estate the most. As the winemaker, Ernie was forced to make one of the toughest decisions of his career: does he harvest his grapes, knowing that there is a high chance that the wines will suffer from smoke taint? or does he take the loss, refusing to take the risk of producing subpar wines? Thankfully, he made the right decision and did not produce any red wines from the year 2020, protecting the prestigious reputation of Hagafen's award-winning wines.

Taking on the wrath of Mother Nature is a difficult task, coupling it with a global epidemic and forced closures takes the stress of running a business to a whole new level! Rallying their troops, the Weirs and their hospitality team persevered, taking the temporary closures of their business as an opportunity to rethink guest experiences at Hagafen Cellars. Between their website redesign and the upgrades made to their guest experiences offered at the Silverado Trail property, it's safe to say that the Hagafen team made the most out of the pandemic. When asked how Ernie felt about the challenges his business has endured over the past few years, he responded with...

"We are farmers first, and farmers are resilient!"