As Jews around the world prepare to drink wine in honor of Passover observance, the winemakers at the Golan Heights Winery feel proud of the quality revolution they continue to lead in the world of kosher wine.\r\n\r\nOn Passover, Jews are commanded to drink four glasses of wine. While biblical passages don't elaborate on what type of wine, nowhere does it say it must be viscous and cough-syrupy sweet like kosher wines of old.\r\n\r\nIsrael's first commercial grapes came from Baron Edmund de Rothschild, who sent varietals from France in the late 1800s to help Jewish pioneers gain a foothold in the Holy Land. Today, Israel is home to more than 150 boutique and 16 industrial wineries\u2014though not all kosher. Award-winning wineries produce kosher wines that compete with the world's best quaffs. And the place where that happens most is the Golan Heights Winery in Israel's north.\r\n\r\nKosher winemaking didn't come of age until the 1980s, when California technology, Israeli high-tech farming and the pluck of young entrepreneurs merged. "The development in the last 25 years has been astronomical," says Daniel Rogov, wine critic for the Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz. "Things start[ed] with the Golan, and it continues with them."\r\n\r\nCreated in 1983 by eight residential collectives near the town of Katzrin, the Golan Heights Winery generates 15 varieties on three labels\u2014for a total goal of 450,000 cases of wine in 2007. Its wines win prizes\u2014and not just among kosher competitors.\r\n\r\n\r\nCourtesy Golan Heights Winery\r\nThe Golan's vineyards thrive in volcanic soil ranging from rocky and shallow to deep, red loam on breezy plateaus. Beyond symmetrical rows rise the\u00a0mountains, over which the wind seems to speak.\r\n\r\nRabbi Sholom Aharonson walks among the Golan Heights Winery's vines and barrels, ensuring that every step meets religious requirements; certification comes from three governing rabbinic bodies. For a small producer, certification can be too costly, which explains why many Israeli wineries are not certified kosher, even if their processes are.\r\n\r\nThe Golan Heights Winery spends August to November\u00a0harvesting around-the-clock, says Ella Shtebel, who has worked in the visitor's center for 18 years. To tend to the 1500 acres during harvest, the winery operates 24-hours-a-day, so production workers work 12-hour shifts, except during\u00a0the\u00a0Sabbath\u00a0(Friday afternoon to Saturday night). The rest of the time it's business-as-usual with daily tours except on the Sabbath and holidays. The winery employs 130 people, half working here and the rest in a mid-country distribution center.\r\n\r\n\u00a0Odem Vineyards is located in northern Golan. Courtesy Golan Heights Winery.\r\nDoes being a kosher certified winery present any issues? "The kosher issue almost never comes up," says head winemaker Victor Schoenfeld, a graduate of the University of California-Davis. As an everyday part of the winery, being kosher is not an issue, as it is for the nonkosher wineries that must alter their processes to make them kosher.\r\n\r\nAny wine can be kosher if production processes follow biblical guidelines. Because wine is sacred to many traditions, Jewish law says it can't be sanctified\u00a0by another religion. That means observant Jews handle every step of production, says Rabbi Moshe Elefant, chief operating officer of the Orthodox Union's kosher division.\r\n\r\nThere are other requirements, too\u2014like letting fields lie fallow for three years before harvesting the first grapes and leaving grapes untouched during sabbatical years. No animal products can be used in clarifying the wine, either. Because this rules out gelatin, egg whites or Isinglass (from non-kosher sturgeon), kosher winemakers employ a clay material called bentonite to pull suspended particles to the bottom of the barrel.\r\n\r\nMost kosher wine is produced at non-kosher wineries, which must convert processes and seal tanks. The always-kosher status of the Golan Heights Winery enables its people to devote time and resources to finessing the process\u2014with its network of 13 meteorological stations, vine spectral-imaging and "green" procedures like wind-power and increasing organic growing.\r\n\r\nIt's an inspiring place to work, says Schoenfeld, "one of those lucky strokes of life."