Borderless Wine Alliance (BWA) is a movement that spotlights outstanding wines from different corners of the world, including Mexico, Lebanon, and Syria. Its founder, Peter Weltman, answered questions about its newest product: Status No. This Is the inaugural series by The Borderless Wine Alliance and combines narratives from Israel and Palestine expressed in one bottle. Peter is a San Francisco-based young professional leader with IPF Atid and a 2019 Charles Bronfman Convener. He recently connected with current Israel Policy Forum intern Luisa Chainferber to share more about this work:

Luisa Chainferber, IPF Atid: What is it about the Borderless Wine Alliance (BWA)’s new Status No that makes it so special and exciting for you? 

Peter Weltman, BWA: This is a wine BWA facilitated through partnerships made across the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank in cooperation, transparency, and the desire for something harmoniously new. The goal is to elevate new voices and histories in a shared experience with hope that two states can live collaboratively, side by side, in the future. That begins with people. The label is clear: Dabouki grapes are sourced from Abu Nicola’s beautiful vineyard that he tends in Bethlehem. He is a Palestinian Christian man. The wine is made at Latroun Monastery in Ramle, Israel. The original label said West Bank and Israel but was rejected by the US regulatory agency in charge of label information. The entire Borderless Wine ethos demonstrates that apparently impossible outcomes are in fact feasible: and while expressed through wine, it applies well beyond this medium.

IPF Atid: You’ve been traveling the world through BWA and telling incredible, important stories through a unique medium: wine. What prompted you to start this business and make Status No? 

PW: In 2016, I was in Israel attending the Schusterman ROI Summit, which is a global leadership conference for social entrepreneurs. During this trip, I became familiar with a project of an Israeli winery that worked with a Palestinian grape farmer from Hebron. In this project, there was continued dialogue where individuals spoke of shared initiatives and a shared land. I ended up visiting Cremisan Winery in Beit Jala, West Bank. I thought that as a Jew, I was not supposed to be welcomed there; however, I was. If wine could take me to the West Bank and create new and immovable relationships, I was eager to discover what other types of barriers wine was ready to overcome.

IPF Atid: Given our focus at Israel Policy Forum on the two-state outcome and its viability, and your own familiarity with regional challenges through your own work, can you describe what you experienced when working in Palestinian and Israeli areas?

PW: While there have been some challenges, there’s been even more exaltation and willing partners. The spirit of Status No’s endeavor meant proceeding with openness and trust amongst all parties, or the project wasn’t right for BWA. Unlike the aforementioned previous attempt, all parties involved in the production process needed to know each other with a radical degree of transparency. Nonetheless, the process worked, and we made something that all stakeholders feel agency and pride over. It’s a wine that unabashedly represents everyone involved, and yet the willingness to share speaks to what motivates BWA. The wine is now in the US and will also be sold in Israel and the West Bank, too. And it’s all welcomed to the zenith of our borderless ideals.

IPF Atid: What kind of reception is Status No receiving as a wine and as a narrative?

PW: The entirety of BWA’s work continually creates an intersection of the diverse communities that I keep. It’s normal for Israelis to eagerly ask me about Lebanese vineyards that I’ve seen. I fervently showcase Palestinian wines to my Jewish community while also being ingratiated into Palestinian communities, too. I hear all of the time that sommeliers find a wellspring of purpose in the work. My Jewish community, Israeli community, Palestinian community, and global derivation of those communities are eager to taste Status No. Perhaps it’s just for the wine. But maybe it’s to experience the flavor of what is possible. The metric by which BWA measures success is ensuring a high “Impact Per Bottle,” which is only achieved by making sure we are fully accomplices alongside the partners in our network. Either way, it’s clear that outside of wine, these bottles and stories represent something greater. 

IPF Atid: Given your close relationship with the grape growers and producers for the entire BWA portfolio, what is it that you would like the wine community and wider world to take away from these businesses and specifically Status No?

PW: At BWA, we stopped asking the costs of doing these initiatives and instead asked: what are the consequences of not doing them? The incalculable value, trust, and partnership we cultivate is perfectly summed up by Abu Nicola’s daughter Juliana, when she wrote, “We trust you with our family name.”

 

*To find out more about Borderless Wine, including where to purchase this Status No, please reach: Peter@borderless.wine. Read more about BWA in Decanter Magazine’s “Look at the ‘Cultural Values that Lurk Behind the Label.’”

Peter Weltman is a San Francisco founder of Borderless Wine, a movement encouraging people to explore and drink off the beaten path. The Borderless Wine Alliance creates the pipeline to bring these wines to global markets. In turn, he sees these wines as radically collaborative acts that showcase human’s greatest potential, and where wine buying is a form of activism. Peter is a 2019 Charles Bronfman Convener with IPF Atid.

Luisa Chainferber is a junior majoring in Economics and International Relations at Seton Hall University. She currently interns with Israel Policy Forum, supporting ongoing educational projects and IPF Atid initiatives to further support for two states. She is passionate about international relations, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding initiatives.

IPF Atid is the young professionals program of Israel Policy Forum, an organization dedicated to advancing support for a viable two-state solution consistent with Israel’s security. Created in July 2017, IPF Atid helps facilitate new connections, conversations, and campaigns surrounding the most pressing topics and issues in Israeli-Palestinian affairs.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CHARLES BRONFMAN CONVENERS PROGRAM HEREMEET THE 2019 COHORT OF CHARLES BRONFMAN CONVENERS

Above: Peter Weltman (far right) at the Bacchus Temple in Baalbek, Lebanon.
Below: Conveners engaging with each other and former Ambassador Martin Indyk during the 2019 Summit in New York.