Wine merchant makes sweet deal for Israel

Wine merchant makes sweet deal for Israel

Making kiddush over wine is a mitzvah by itself. But, shoppers who buy Israeli wines at Wine Country in Bergenfield this month can do an extra mitzvah by helping Israel.

The store has announced that it will donate 10 percent of the proceds of all Israeli wines sold in May to Magen David Adom, the Israeli emergency medical services organization. The promotion, said owner Scott Maybaum, is part of “a proactive attempt to reach the [Jewish] community, connect with them, and work on positive relations.”

Scott Maybaum promotes charities along with selling wine.

Situated on New Bridge Road in Bergenfield, close to the Teaneck border, Wine Country is near a handful of Orthodox synagogues. Maybaum wanted to do something that would set his store apart from other area retailers, and this promotion, he said, would benefit not only his store, but Israel as well.

Wine Country carries more than 100 wines from 25 Israeli wineries. While kosher wine still has a reputation for being overly sweet (recall a scene from the sit-com “Frasier” where the main character and his brother pour sugar into a glass of wine and declare it to be awful, but perfect for a Jewish wine palate) the variety and quality have undergone a transformation in the past decade.

“The kosher wines themselves are getting better and becoming more available from Israel and other places as well,” Maybaum said.

Bayonne-based Royal Wine Corp., distributor of Kedem and a number of other kosher wine brands, has provided Maybaum with some help in the form of signs and special selections. Maybaum has not had contact yet with MDA, but plans to send the organization a check at the end of the promotion. He chose the charity based on his own familiarity with the organization.

“There are many good charities and if this program is successful I’d like to extend it to some other charities,” he said.

Maybaum is working on a display to draw attention to the Bergenfield Fire Department’s funding needs for its newly opened training center. His other business, the Website, an Internet retailer of gift items, promotes the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

“There are plenty of good causes out there that need funds and people can relate to,” he said. “It just takes some focus and direction.”

New Jersey is home to 10 Wine Country stores. Maybaum owns the brand, but all except two stores are franchises, and the MDA promotion is in only the Bergenfield store, which Maybaum runs and his wife, Ronda, owns.

If the store receives positive response to the promotion, Maybaum said, he will consider extending it beyond the end of the month or repeating it. He has already heard from some customers who like the idea and the charity.

“Whenever I hear that it creates more incentive for me and makes it more worthwhile,” he said. “As a retailer, you come out with ideas and try to implement them, and if no one gives feedback there isn’t that motivation to continue with certain things.””It’s nice to hear when people do comment in a positive way,” he added. “And hopefully it’ll create some good-will.”

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