RALPH MIZRAJI, FOUNDER OF L’CHAIM WINES AND SPIRITS, WANTS HIS BRAND TO GO FROM BEING A PREMIER KOSHER VODKA MAKER TO BECOMING THE MOST COMMON NAME ON THE FRIDAY TABLE. HE HERE DESCRIBES HOW HE PLANS TO DO IT.
By Nelson Agelvis | Photography by Emilio Arias
When Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz founded his small kosher food company back in 1888, he never even dreamed of becoming the worldwide “go to” kosher brand. Now, 125 years later, a new kid on the Shabbat table does dream big. This new kid is entrepreneur and founder of L’Chaim branded wine and spirits, Ralph Mizraji. Mizraji wants L’Chaim to become the new “go to” Kosher brand, and even though some may scoff at his chutzpah for challenging kosher giant Manischewitz, it appears Mizraji has a good stone for his sling, specifically, a contract with the largest wine producer and distributor in the United States.
Known as a kosher vodka maker, in describing L’Chaim’s new line, Mizraji describes his wines with such passion that it sounds more like he’s describing romantic novels. “Our love affair with L’Chaim branded wines begins with the master winemaker, who supervises the planting of the vineyard, where the soil must be enriched and nurtured with basalt and terra rosa.” he says with pride. “The vineyard is located in a topographically strategic area that allows us to take advantage of ideal climate conditions and facing the exact direction as to receive a precise amount of sunlight. Even the harvesting is carefully planned so that the grapes are hand-picked with great care at first dawn, to keep the clusters cool.”
Capitalizing on the success of the vodka category, he contracted with Southern Wine & Spirits, the largest wine distributor in the country, and the Herzog family, owners of Royal Wine Corp, the largest producer of Kosher wines, to create what he believes will be the best chance to compete with the long standing champion of the category, Manischewitz.
“Needless to say, we are committed to quality and we pay attention to every detail in the process, which we consider an art. This old-world approach to fine wine making is time zconsuming, but worthy of its heritage. This is why we selected the Herzog Family, renowned for eight generations and making the finest award winning wines, to care for and produce our fine wines.”
Mizraji has shown talent for building and branding companies. His knowledge and experience, coupled with a skilled team, has created an awareness and acceptance campaign that even the largest of spirit companies have noticed. “The cross-over campaign has worked well. The brand has been accepted outside of a Jewish-only or Kosher-only world and is the envy of many that have tried and failed,” says Mizraji.
The wine campaign will start by courting wine experts and enthusiasts through a special series called “To Life.” Experts such as James Sheer, global mixoligist and sommelier of world-renowned restaurant group Zuma said he is “a big fan” of L’Chaim kosher vodka, already favored by the mixoligist community. The brand name is clever, and the marketing concept fresh. The distributor and producer are certainly leaders in their field and the packaging is tasteful. So to those familiar with the industry, it appears Mizraji may have uncovered the formula to finally challenge the old-timers in the business.
Asked about the expectations for the brand, Mizraji just says, “The category is stuck in time. Seeking to change this, I surrounded myself with very smart and capable people. I can see countless cups filled with our wine and vodka, and hear the sounds of toasting ‘to life’ and ‘L’Chaim’ louder and louder every day.”
So even though some people will sing “tradition” when asked to consider another wine, there are many others excited about the fashionable and reputable newcomer. We believe that when it comes to celebrating, as the saying goes, “the more, the merrier.” L’Chaim!