Every summer, Rabbi Naftali Citron of the Carlebach Shul in Manhattan comes out to Santa Cruz to lead a Shabbaton at Four Gates Winery. Kosher organic estate-bottled vino is served at every meal. The place is idyllic. And the chevre is so chill we tent camp all over the hill. The stars don’t disappoint.
The vineyard sits atop many acres. Horses on this property wander freely. One even dropped by during the Torah service on Shabbat. We had to lure him away with a carrot.
Blackberries, plums, mint, lavender and nasturtium grow wild. Towering redwoods provide shade and, well, I’d keep gushing but I’m sure you’re getting the picture. The sun setting Erev Shabbat over the vineyard, with the forest in the background and a blushing sky, prompted even five-year-old Shlomo Bookstein to describe it “as a painting.”
Sunday, after most guests had departed and the rest of us had packed up our gear, chef Chaim Davids started cooking up his breakfast. And soon, the rest of the die-hards who weren’t so eager to leave started piling up a table outdoors with all the leftovers, fresh bread Bubbie Bookstein brought in from town, a giant watermelon and tiny sweet plums gathered from the forest. Chaim recently moved west to open a full-serv kosha res in the Silicon Valley called Noya. And the food was so delish, once again, the horses came around to see what we were up to…
As we sat there, under the trees, Rabbi Yonah crowned our meal a Summer Harvest Feast. It could have been right out of a Martha mag. Except none of us were WASPS. The food was kosh. We were all buying bottles of Binyo’s wine to take back home. And most of us really needed a shower.