Carmel Winery’s Etti Edri Shares her “Wine Moment” in time for Passover
Etti is incredible. Passionate, devoted, excited; and loves working with Israeli wines. It was a huge honor to get a few minutes of her time to talk about her career and her pro tips with wine just in time for Passover.
So, starting off generally, what is your favorite thing about wine? And what was the moment that inspired you to get into wine professionally?
So I think it’s a great question, because every wine lover or wine connoisseur or wine educator loves this question, because it’s easy to answer.
It defines many things and relates to a lot of happy moments. Every time we celebrate, it around wine, especially as a Jewish person, and we use it to celebrate a lot around our holidays. So every time you get together, it’s a special moment. And by the way, Carmel Winery is just one of them, because it’s been there forever. It’s 140 years old. It’s easy for us to connect immediately to joyful moments that have to do with Carmel Wines.
My first encounter with wine was on my seder meal. I think I was, like, 10 years old. My father wanted to celebrate our freedom and exodus.
So he gave me the first glass, and I was like, “This is not what I was expecting to drink.” I was 10 years old… That was the first encounter.
But if we’re talking about my real encounter with wine, my first honest one was when I joined the wine business. I was there around my thirties and I visited the vineyards just to learn about the wine making process, and I met 2 beautiful vintners that worked in the field.
I listened to them and to their passion about wine, and winemaking and about the vines, and about the agriculture, and how happy they are to receive every drop of rain in the winter, and how important the sun is when it’s really hot for the grapes. It made me fall in love even more.
I love that. I love the history and the romance.
So is Wine Exporter the best title for you?
And actually my background is wine for excellence for the past 20 years, which i’m very happy about. I’m the luckiest person on Earth.
Wine is the best thing to export. It involves passion, love of wine, love of people. At first it can seem scary because it’s a big thing. It’s all over the world. I was doing it in Israel. I was selling wine. I was educating people about wine, and then, when I was promoted at the company to become the export manager
I became the Ambassador of Wine to tell the world that Israel is making some of the best wines in the world, and also had that history, so combining knowledge, combining love, combining passion.
And of course you have to have the skills, which is the business management, the international skills that you need to have. You have to know how to negotiate. When you combine business management, together with wine, it’s also fun.
Eventually you got to promote growth and increase imagery of the winery.
What inspired you to get into the business side of line? Where did that that passion come from?
Well, actually, I didn’t really know anything about wine. I used to live in California, about 1 hour flight from Napa Valley.
I didn’t even know about Napa. I was totally outside the business. I worked as a nurse and drank white semi-dry wines, which is what I liked, and I thought it was a good entry level wine, and that’s it.
But when I came to Israel, I saw how the industry is evolving so much that I decided to move with my family down south to an area called Yatir, which is a desert mountain. In the desert mountain there were maybe 12 or 15 plots of beautiful vines, and I would ask, “Is it for food? You eat the vines?” and they say, no, it’s for wine. And that’s how I got into the first encounter with wine in general.
And then a year later, I heard that they’re opening a winery down south, and they are looking for someone to sell the wines, and I said, oh, that’s a good thing for me, because nursing wasn’t enough. I wanted to start something new. I wanted to do something for my soul. So I moved down south and I became the wine educator for a different winery, which is a very unique winery, and we’ll talk about it one day.
I worked there for 15 years, and after 15 years they promoted me to become the Ambassador of Carmel Wines as well.
That’s amazing. You said that you moved your entire family from the United States to Israel. That sounds very dramatic. Was it a big risk?
I’ll refine it. I met my current husband in America. We fell in love and I said, ‘Okay, it’s great. You’ll stay with me in America.’ And he said, ‘I very much miss home and I’m sure you do, too. Let’s give it a try in Israel.’ So we moved together, and then we got married and then we moved down south with the whole family after I gave birth to two babies, and today I have three kids.
I feel like romance really has generated a lot of your life’s direction, and that’s a very beautiful thing.
So when you’re making wine, or you’re in the wine business. You gotta have that part in you which has a romance as well.
You have to love the sunset. You have to love the view. When I drive to work, I see all this desert. Clouds sitting in the valley. You gotta stop for a minute and look at it. Some people just drive by. But I stop and I look. I think it’s important to have that, because it helps you promote the items as well.
Passover Seder is April 5. Are there any wines you recommend for Passover?
Because I’m at the age of liking these geeky kinds of wines, I want to talk about Carmel Signature. Carmel Signature is all the premium wines under Carmel Winery’s label. It means that while we make regular table wines, you can also drink our Signature series and it has our signature on it, Carmel signature with a symbol of spies.
That symbol means it’s coming from the top vineyards in Israel. So it’s coming up from the Galilee. It’s coming from the Judean Hills. It’s always being picked from single vineyards that are growing up in the north, with really meticulous care.
When it comes into the winery, it’s separated in oak, and then after the fermentation, it’s blended together for a while until it creates a beautiful blend.
So two things I want to talk about, one is we are launching “Single vineyard”, which is a very famous among Kosher drinkers. They love it knowing it’s Single Vineyard from Carmel and they want to taste it because it’s been planted since 2010.
Also, we are launching something today that’s a bit higher. It’s called Volcano, because it comes from a special vineyard that was planted in 2010. Picked from their Cabernet Sauvignon, which Americans love.
So combine the Cabernet grapes, the single vineyard, the signature symbol, the immaculate vineyard work. Combing in all and eventually you get something that’s really really beautiful on the palate, very rich, but yet something you can age and drink 5 – 10 years from now.