Daniel Rogov: A Personal Tribute

The following are words that I wrote in tribute of Daniel Rogov. I sent this to Rogov before he died. Rogov, you were a true mentor and will be missed.

There are many people in the wine industry who have been greatly influenced by Daniel Rogov, who brought international standards to Israeli wine and brought the story of Israeli wine to the international audience.

Daniel Rogov has been commended by many of the wine greats. At Rogov’s tribute evening, Howard Goldberg referred to Rogov as “the Robert Parker of Israel,” Serena Sutcliffe wrote that “Daniel has made friends wherever he went with his warmth and enthusiasm and his tremendous support for Israel’s wines.” Hugh Johnson sent his good wishes, and Tom Stevenson wrote “you Rogov, my friend, have been a superstar on the international wine scene for decades!”But Rogov has more than been important to the great wine critics, but also had some small, personal influence on many of us.

Rogov has had tremendous influence among the “עם” – the average people. I’m the administrator of the Israeli wine page on Facebook, and this is what one fan had to say:

Gabriel Geller said, “Just wanted to thank Rogov for his books, from which I learned so much. And for being THE advocate and ambassador of both the kosher wine revolution and Israeli wine!”

I have also been greatly influenced by Rogov. This site, and my wine writing, would not exist if not for Rogov.

Rogov’s been writing about Israeli wine since he first arrived in Israel in the late 1970s, and especially since the wine revolution began in the 1980s. I only discovered Rogov just five years ago when I was writing my first story about Israeli wine, an ISRAEL21c profile on Domaine du Castel. Since then, however, I was hooked, a hassid of Rogov at his forum and articles and book events. If you haven’t noticed, many of my blog posts are inspired by conversations that take place or news posted on Rogov’s forum.

I don’t know how Rogov thinks about inspiring a blog. He self-identifies a curmudgeon and once wrote on his forum that “I am not about to become part of what I perceive as the Facebook and Twitter crowd” but I suspect he won’t mind it. After all, despite his love of the printed word, I think he represents the best of Wine 2.0 — always active on his and other forums, and — no doubt about it — providing education and “value” – while he’s quick witted, with a charming sense of humor, he says what needs to be said, whether it takes 2 words or 2000. A true craftsman of the written word.

I once wrote that Rogov, “practices the most important rule of social media: which is simply to be open, accessible, informative, and welcoming. This premier critic always answers the questions of his forumites, always is available for tasting notes, and usually shares his views. More importantly, a man of integrity, he calls ‘em as he sees ‘em and doesn’t let his personal opinions get in the way of his tasting notes.” This view was also shared by the late Ilan Tokayer, another hassid of Rogov, and one of the Millennials who love wine, who wrote: “maybe Rogov is a little hipper than I have always given him credit for. … As Hein’s post points out, through his forum, Rogov is always available to anyone who may want to contact him and happy to provide information, a tasting note, or a plain old honest opinion.  In that way, Rogov’s been practicing all the web 2.0 nerds tweet and blog about over and over again: use the internet to always make yourself available, tell stories, and create a two-way discussion with your followers.  In that way Rogov has been on the wine 2.0 bandwagon even longer than internet wine gurus Gary Vaynerchuk (2006), Alder Yarrow (2004), and even Tyler “Dr. Vino” Coleman (2002).”

Rogov has proven himself time and time again both to be a man of integrity and a true gentleman, with refined tastes but also the diplomacy to know how to express himself. Immensely accessible to all, even the “little guy”, he has harnessed wide connections and well respected even by those who don’t always see eye-to-eye with him.

Rogov is a true Zionist. Before I made aliya and since, I worked in pro-Israel activism (hasbara). The best way to help Israel and promote Israel’s image in the world is to tell the story about the real Israel. Rogov has been a main force telling the real story of Israeli wine to the global audience.

Daniel Rogov tells the story of Israeli wine both to Israelis and to the rest of the world. But Rogov is not an Israeli. He was born in Brooklyn, and spent his formative years in Europe. Rogov only came to Israel as an adult, in 1976, well before the wine revolution had hit Israel. Perhaps fitting as well, this was the year of the first Israeli wine success: the 1976 Carmel Special Reserve. While Hebrew may not be his native tongue, wine is. And he’s been able to use his English and wine skills to tell the story to the world.

It is not unusual in Israel for the international standards and world-class to come from immigrants. Israel is the ‘start up nation’ of high tech success (also reflected in many wineries’ usage of ‘new world’ technology to advance them). Israel’s high tech hub owes itself a large part to Ed Mlavsky, originally from the United Kingdom. In addition to Rogov, other immigrants in the Israeli wine industry include Adam Montefiore of Carmel, Victor Schoenfeld, Chief Winemaker at Golan Heights Winery, and previously, Peter Stern, who has since returned to California’s Herzog Winery, and Canadian Barry Saslove, of Saslove Winery.

Rogov is notorious for his love of fine food, kosher or not. Despite that, he’s also been an important advocate for kosher wine today, noting that there is no reason that kosher wines to have to sacrifice in quality and no compromise between good wine and kosher wine. In recent years, he’s also written about international kosher wine in a book and for the Jewish Press, in addition to his observations of the Israeli wine world, many of the wines just happening to be kosher.

Rogov has done a lot for Israeli wine — putting it on the map long before Parker or others. They wouldn’t give Israeli wine a mention if not for Rogov.

But, more importantly than what Rogov has given the wine world, it’s what we have given to Daniel Rogov. And hopefully, we can at least contribute a little to him as what he has given to us.

R.I.P. Daniel Rogov. יהי זכרונו לברכה – May He Be Remembered For Blessing
  • Geller Gabriel

    Great tribute to Rogov Avi, and thanks for quoting me, I’m very honored. 

    best,

    Gabriel 

  • Harmonicaharold

    This is indeed a sad day and Daniel Rogov will be deeply missed. His guidance helped us discover and taste the wonders of this emerging superb wine industry during visits to many of his recommended wineries. One of the vintners said: “I don’t know what the other critics come for, but Daniel comes to work”.

  • http://showamerica.com/ Nina Julie

    It is not unusual in Israel for the international standards and world-class to come from immigrants, which may cause any harm. Thanks mate.