Business spotlight on… Gabriel Geller
Business Name and Position: Royal Wine Corp., PR Director & Advertising and Manager
Location: 63 Lefante Way, Bayonne, NJ
Number of Employees: 500+
Years in Business: 6
Which wine would you recommend for a Chanukah party?
Herzog Lineage Momentus. It is a sparkling wine with a subtle sweetness, typically a crowd-pleaser. Like all sparkling wines, it pairs fantastically with fried foods, such as latkes and donuts, making it ideal for this time of year. It is the ultimate celebratory wine! And like all Herzog Lineage wines, it delivers high quality at an affordable cost.
Do your wine recommendations vary by season?
Yes, they do. As temperatures changes throughout the seasons, the types of food we eat change as well. In the winter favor hearty dishes. In the summer we favor salads and fruits. The same goes with wine. We tend to choose heavier red wines in the winter and lighter white and rosé wines in the summer.
What are your all-time favorite selections?
This is a tough question, but I do have a great example. There is one wine that I consider to be the best kosher wine I ever had. It’s called Château Pontet-Canet. Specifically, I like the 2003 vintage. It is a red Bordeaux wine and it has become extremely sought-after among kosher wine collectors. Between 2005 and 2018 it was not kosher. I am very excited because we are releasing the 2019 vintage, 15 years after the last kosher run!
How has the wine industry been affected these past two years in terms of production and consumer consumption?
Overall, the consumption has increased, with more people drinking wine with their weeknight dinner as opposed to mostly on Shabbos and holidays. The average price per bottle has increased, as well.
Why is that?
Because more people were home all day during the COVID-19 lockdowns and drank more wine. That is a new habit that has remained for a lot of people. Since they were spending less time and money on travel and dining out, they increased their spending on wine, among other things. Once you drink more expensive wine, your appreciation and perception of wine change, as well. And unless one really cannot afford it, people usually don’t downgrade the quality of wine they are accustomed to.
What is exciting and new on the market?
An increasing supply of quality white wines from all over the world. Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Riesling from the Pacific Northwest, top-notch dry white Bordeaux and Sauternes, exciting blends from Israel… It’s really amazing what’s happening in the wine industry.
Does Shemittah impact your business?
Not really. Israeli wineries usually allocate more wine from the vintage before Shemittah (2021) and from the vintage after the Shemittah (2023) for their export markets, so we have enough inventory to get us through that period. Rosé wines could be an issue; however, we have a tremendous selection of rosé from California, France, Spain, and other regions outside of Israel to make up for the temporary absence of Israeli rosés.
What are some interesting pairings that you are seeing lately?
Rosé wines, which were once appreciated mostly as summer wines, are now commonly served at weeknight and Shabbos meals, paired with salads, sushi, and grilled chicken.
Does the grape’s origin affect the taste of the wine it produces? How does production affect its taste?
The climate and soil of each region affect the character of the grapes. For example, and this is true for all varieties, Merlot from Bordeaux are different than Merlot from Israel. The pace at which grapes ripen varies upon the temperature, type of soil, and humidity. Therefore, wine made from Bordeaux Merlot will be noticeably different than an Israeli one. Production methods such as the temperature at which the must is fermented or the type of oak in which a wine is aged will also play a significant role in its final profile.
Do you market your wines outside the Jewish market?
Yes, we do. Bartenura has become very popular in the Jewish market and well beyond. It is also true for other wines such as Jeunesse. And we constantly promote Israeli wines as unique and exciting, to make Israel as well-respected a wine-growing region as California, Italy, France, or Spain.
What do you like best about your job?
I love connecting with people, and wine is a good people connector. In my line of work, I get to interact and discover diverse cultures and communities, within the broad Jewish community of course, but not exclusively.