Four Questions, Four Wines with Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines

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 #4: Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines.

Tercero Wines was founded in 2007 by Larry Schaffer. After a career working in the educational and trade publishing industry, Larry pursued his passion for wine. After receiving his viticulture degree at UC Davis, he took a job as enologist at Fess Parker Winery. He launched Tercero Wines with a focus on Rhone grape varieties sourced exclusively from leading Santa Barbara County Vineyards.

 Why is this winery different from other wineries?

As an owner and winemaker, I stand firmly out in front of it each and every day. I lovingly craft each of my wines from grape to wine, doing as much of the work myself as possible. I am in my own tasting room nearly every day, leading tastings, and being there to support and ’embody’ my brand and my wines. I do my own sales and marketing to wine shops and restaurants, and in better times, I am on the road knocking on doors. And I am on social media and wine bulletin boards often, talking not about my brand but about wine in general. I lead by education and enthusiasm.

What do you remember drinking at your family seder table?

Our family seder table was always a bit of a “zoo” as I have four brothers and all of us are loud and vocal. Wine was not really part of my parents’ lives when I was young and therefore, when there was wine on that table, it was Manischewitz, if anything. We were given grape juice when we were very young but were able to try small amounts of wines eventually.

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

These days, it is quite challenging to get all of us together for a seder table as my brothers now all live in different areas and my 93-year-old mom is in an assisted living facility. When we do get together, there tends to be quite a lot of wine for us to all share together. Sometimes, my own wines ‘lead the charge’, and we usually have 2 or 3 different wines based on different preferences amongst my brothers and their wives. We will start with the Tercero Wines 2020 The Outlier ($33), a dry Gewurztraminer that tends to be a hit, or the 2016 Grenache Blanc ($33), another favorite. We will then move on to one of my two rosés, either the lighter 2020 Cinsault Rosé ($30) or the earthy and tropical 2020 Mourvèdre Rosé ($30). We will finish the meal with red wines, letting either the 2017 Carignane ($38) or the grenache-based 2014 Verbiage Rouge blend ($44) take center stage.

What do these wines teach us?

To me, wine is an integral part of life for many adults around the world. At its core, it is a lubricant for conversation. It takes a prominent place on the table, whether in a bottle, a decanter, or simply in a carafe. It does not need to be expensive or ‘highly rated’ or ‘intimidating’. It should simply be there to be shared and enjoyed. And of course, think of the toast L’chaim, “to life”. Simple, right?

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