It took a while, but California winemaker and rock music impresario Bruce Cohn finally decided to go kosher. At least he is giving it a try, with the release of the 2008 Trestle Glen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. According to Bruce, “I figured after 25 years of making wine with the name ‘Cohn’ on the bottle, why not have a kosher wine for that segment of the market?” It was worth the wait. Daniel Rogov, wine and restaurant critic for the Israeli daily newspaper HaAretz, just gave the wine 92 points and kosher wine lovers are buzzing with excitement. “We think it’s a good, solid kosher wine,” explains Bruce, “and being as though we grow the grapes, we know that you can’t make great wine if you don’t have high quality grapes, so that’s where we begin.”
Actually, the B.R. Cohn story begins much earlier. Bruce Cohn has been the manager of The Doobie Brothers since 1970 and spent years living on the road overseeing their rise to fame. A string of top 10 hits in the 1970’s, including “Listen to the Music,” “China Grove,” “Black Water,” and “Taking It To The Streets” catapulted The Doobie Brothers to superstardom and a permanent spot on the playlist of classic rock radio stations everywhere. Seeking a place to escape from the toils of touring, Bruce purchased the Sonoma Valley estate property in 1974. Bruce lives with his family on the winery, not many miles from the places he once roamed as a child working on his family’s grade-A goat dairy farm (one of only two Jewish dairy farms in California at the time) in the Russian River Valley.
After wines made with his grapes won several awards Bruce realized that he had some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the region growing right underneath his feet and he switched from selling them to other wineries to producing wine under his own label in 1984.
As proprietor of B.R. Cohn Winery, Bruce is actively involved, overseeing daily operations and every aspect of the property from winery production to the tasting room to the annual Charity Fall Music Festival. The 90-acre, family-operated winery hosts concerts and special events throughout the year, donating a majority of the proceeds to local charities. For Cohn, the concerts and events at the winery create a perfect union, combining his two great passions, wine and music.
“Music has been in my life since I was a child – starting with my parents, growing up around serious musicianship. My folks tried to get me into music at an early age and I wasn’t cut out for it. I played almost every instrument, but always wanted to be outside playing sports instead of practicing. I love music but it wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted for raising my family; I wanted that part of my life with them to be very close to the way I was raised on the goat dairy. So, in 1974 I purchased this property and then we planted grapes. So, I learned fast and am still learning actually, but I learned a lot in my first 10 years.” Those early lessons paid off. B.R. Cohn wines have consistently won awards and high praise from critics and connoisseurs, justifying the excitement behind Bruce’s first foray into kosher winemaking.
The new wine is an estate grown Cabernet vineyard certified by the Orthodox Union. Only 400 cases were produced. The B.R. Cohn 2008 Trestle Glen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon has deep aromas of plum and black cherry. A bouquet of spice, anise, white pepper and cedar cigar box combine with ripe, luscious flavors to create a full bodied Cabernet with a lasting finish. The wine was fermented in small lots and aged in the finest tight-grain French oak barrels. This Cabernet was selected from the Trestle Glen Vineyard which is part of the B.R. Cohn Olive Hill estate and was grown using sustainable farming practices.
When asked about plans for other kosher wines, Bruce is patient, “we’ll wait and see how this one does. If it becomes popular, we’ll obviously consider doing another varietal.” After all, it did take him 25 years to make his first kosher wine. While we wait to see how Bruce Cohn intends to follow this Cabernet, enjoy a glass and “let the music play.”