Richie Harkham is one of the most colorful characters in the wine business. His Instagram page is awash with vibrant photos of his latest escapades around the world, whether it be building schools in some of the poorest communities around the world or playing with sea turtles in Hawaii. Richie sees the ‘big’ picture of life via a very glass-full lens, and his goal with Harkham Wines is to make the ‘best kosher wine in the world,’ a lofty but not so unassailable ambition considering most kosher wines offered today.
There is a spiritual connection to Harkham that binds not only the kosher wine drawcard for his wines, but also a closeness to fruit that sees ‘less alteration from how God brings fruit to life and then to bottle’. In 1951 the Harkham Family were amongst the first pioneers of Israel’s renowned wine region, Zichron Yackov, where they lived for 16 years. Aziza Harkham, matriarch of the Harkham family, with no electricity and scarce running water, used to make natural food and wine for the family from fresh produce and grapes that she had grown. In 2005 Terry, Efrem and Richie Harkham decided to buy Windarra Estate and winery in the Hunter Valley in a move to get back to their roots.
Richie works with local growers very closely to ensure that his access to top grade fruit is direct and pays the premium required for this to be effective. In the cellar, the ethos is minimal intervention. All their fruit is carefully handpicked and sorted to eliminate rot, unripe fruit and any other diseases; the only addition is light sulfur for stability. They focus on very small batches (20-25 tonnes per year) of fruit with extremely high quality. And there is a strong inclination towards giving back at Harkham Wines; each month a portion of proceeds from wine sales go to a different charity.