Four Questions, Four Wines with Kathy Joseph of Fiddlehead Cellars

Four is a recurrent number in the Passover Seder. There are the Four Questions, the Four Sons, and four cups of wine.

Wine plays a central part in all Jewish traditions. Wine is considered a holy beverage and the blessing over the wine is an important part of most religious ceremonies. In the Scriptures, wine is described as “bringing joy to G-d and man” (Judges 9:13). We use wine when we say Kiddush on Shabbat and other holidays. Blessings are recited with a cup of wine when beneath the chuppah and at a circumcision. And each year at the Passover Seder, we drink four cups of wine as expressions of deliverance promised by G-d.

With the importance of the number four, I spoke to four winemakers and asked them each four questions, including the four wines they suggest for our Passover meals and wrote about it for J Living Magazine. Here is Winemaker #1: Kathy Joseph, Fiddlehead Cellars.

Kathy Joseph is the proprietor, winemaker, grape herder, and head fiddle at Fiddlehead Cellars, located in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara County. She founded Fiddlehead Cellars in 1989 with a focus to produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. She was one of the first female winemakers in open her own winery in Santa Barbara County and in 1996, she purchased her 96-acre Fiddlestix Vineyard in 1996.

Why is this winery different from other wineries?

Many moons ago, I decided to be a winery with purpose. I fell in love with wines where you could easily perceive texture, more commonly called “elegance” and wanted to make more transparent wines. I wanted to make great food wines; wines with balance, where no one component overpowered any other.  And I was a believer in the importance of the place, the importance of where the grapes are grown. I knew “place” creates character in those grapes and the resulting wine. I was willing to relocate to an amazing growing area of lesser fame [Santa Barbara County], with hopes of elevating it to greatness, which happened! So here we are 33 years later living the dream, making Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Grüner Veltliner in a handmade style called “delicious”.

What do you remember drinking at your family seder table?

It must have been a cheap imported red wine, probably French. My family did not have a sweet tooth. Mogen David was present, but it probably only made it into Bubbe’s glass. But we enjoyed every glass with zeal, and probably toasted way sooner than directed in the Haggadah.  I am sure we added several additional “borei pri hagafen” statements throughout our food-centric Seders.

At your seder table this year, what four wines would you select?

The meal will start with the Fiddlehead Cellars 2015 Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc ($30) to pair with the gravlax, gefilte fish, haroset and matzo. With the matzah ball soup, we will enjoy the Fiddlehead Cellars 2015 Fiddlestix Vineyard Grüner Veltliner ($30). For the brisket with carrots and potatoes, Pinot Noir is the definite choice, and it will be either the Fiddlehead Cellars 2014 Fiddlestix Vineyard ‘728’ Pinot Noir ($46) or the Fiddlehead Cellars 2013 ‘Oldsville’ Oregon Pinot Noir ($56).

What do these wines teach us?

To enjoy life!  Family! Friends!  When it tastes good, the entire experience of the Seder is memorable.

Read the original story Passover 2021 – Four Winemakers, Four Questions, Four Wines in JLiving Magazine.