A Heritage of Passion
Look closely at the Herzog label and you can see the drive, the passion, and the story of nine generations who brought our family to where it is today. From the courts of Kaiser Franz Joseph of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to a Europe torn by war, to the streets of New York City, to the vineyards of California, the Herzog story is one of a family’s enduring commitment to their Jewish identity and their belief in the promise of America.
Our Family Roots
Our story begins with Rabbi Menachem Herzog in the early 19th century in the town of Vrbové in the Trnava Region of Slovakia, where he created the family’s distillery, winery and brewery, which would sustain the family for the next century and beyond. The Austro-Hungarian Empire grew with great innovation and became a powerful world force. Emperor Frans-Josef was so impressed with the Herzog wines, that he dubbed Phillip Herzog a baron and asked the Herzog family to produce wine for the royal court.
Through decades of dedication, the success of the Herzog winery grew, bottling carefully crafted wines, beers, and spirits. In the town of Vrbové, many of the townspeople proudly worked for this family and saw them as a pillar in the community.
The rise of fascism brought darkness to Europe in the 1930s. Phillip’s grandson, Eugene Herzog, beloved by neighbors and businesses for his generosity, survived the Nazis, but tragically, his parents did not. They were murdered in Auschwitz. Eugene and his family survived in hiding, until they later emerged and reclaimed their namesake winery. As time continued, Slovakia saw the rise of communism, and under this new regime, Eugene knew it was time to leave.
Fearing that the government would command a boat to turn around and return the Herzogs to Slovakia, Eugene arranged for his family to flee by air and led them to a new life in New York City.
The year was 1948
With more children than dollars (six in total), Eugene began working for a local winery, the Royal Wine Company, as a winemaker, sales manager, and truck driver. He was paid in company shares as the company struggled. Still Eugene persisted, becoming the majority stockholder and buying the company in 1958.
With the help of his four sons, Eugene opened Kedem Winery and worked very hard to develop a full line of opulent wines bearing the Kedem label. They made wines using what was available in New York: the American Concord Grape—a grape that, if not sweetened, produces very bitter wine. The Herzog family used grape juice to sweeten the wine, giving rise not only to the American kosher wine industry, but also the invention of kosher grape juice in the United States. Kedem grape juice is still the top-selling kosher product in the U.S.
Over the next 25 years, the Herzog family prospered and used their success to realize a dream; premium kosher wine making in California. Under the leadership of David Herzog, the Herzog family started the ‘Baron Herzog’ wine label in 1985 – a tribute to their patriarch Baron Phillip Herzog.
The family began sourcing grapes from California’s finest growers in Napa Valley, Lodi and Clarksburg, and created the nation’s first line of premium kosher wine. Starting with that first vintage, Baron Herzog wines have won awards and critical acclaim each year, fulfilling the family’s growing passion to bring delicious wines that happen to be kosher to customers across the globe.
Baron Herzog became “the wandering winery” – beginning in Napa Valley then moving to south of San Francisco before finally building this state-of-the-art winery in Ventura County, California.
At the same time, the Herzog family also began importing kosher wines from nearly every major wine producing region in the world. Today, we import wines and spirits from more than fifteen countries over five continents.