Jeff & Jodie Morgan and Leslie RuddVintners, Covenant Wines
Winemaker Jeff Morgan is also an author, journalist and wine educator. His articles have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Elle, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, and Wine Spectator. He is also the author of eight food and wine books including: Dean & DeLuca: The Food and Wine Cookbook; The Working Parents Cookbook (written with his wife, Jodie); and Rosé, A Guide to the World’s Most Versatile Wine. His newest book, also written with his wife, Jodie, is The Covenant Kitchen, Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table (Schocken/OU Press), which will be released in March 2015.
Jeff’s interest in food and wine first blossomed in Southern France, where he lived and worked for nearly a decade as a saxophone player, eventually becoming bandleader at the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo in the mid-1980s.
Ironically, the call of wine led Jeff back to America, where he grew grapes for several years and made Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot commercially on Long Island, New York. In1995, Wine Spectator hired Jeff as its West Coast editor. He moved to San Francisco, wrote over 400 articles on wine and food for the magazine and became a member of its close-knit tasting panel. In the fall of 1999, the journalist headed to Napa Valley to take on the position of wine director for the nationally recognized gourmet food and wine purveyor, Dean & DeLuca. That’s when he met Covenant partner and co-owner Leslie Rudd. The two vintners founded Covenant in 2003.
After an initial career in social work and non-profit management, Jodie began working as a cookbook author with Jeff, starting in 2002 with The Working Parents Cookbook. Jodie has been the key recipe tester for the eight Morgan cookbooks that include such titles as Dean & Deluca, The Food and Wine Cookbook, The Domaine Chandon Cookbook, and Simply Fresh – Casual Dining At Home. From 2005 – 2006, she was also Executive Director for the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF), serving as an ambassador of fine dining for that organization nationwide. As a partner in Covenant Wines, Jodie actively runs the winery’s marketing and sales programs and is sometimes known as “The Gatekeeper.”
Leslie is owner of Rudd Vineyards & Winery, located in the Oakville appellation of the Napa Valley. Along with his renowned Bordeaux style proprietary red wine, Leslie also makes small quantities of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and Russian River Valley Chardonnay. He also owns Distillery 209 in San Francisco, where he makes one of the only world-renowned kosher-for-Passover gins. And, of course, he is a founding partner of Covenant Winery.
Brought up in Kansas, where his parents founded Standard Beverage Corporation in 1949, Leslie purchased his Oakville property in 1996. In addition to managing Standard Beverage and the winery that bears his name, he serves as Chairman of Dean & Deluca.
Although only 35, Jonathan has worked on every vintage of Covenant for the last decade. The Long Island, NY native has made wine in Israel as well as in California, where he moved in 2004 to work at Herzog Wine Cellars in southern California. That’s where he met Jeff, who was—at the time—making Covenant there as well. In 2008, Jonathan moved to northern California, and he and Jeff began to make Covenant in Napa Valley. Now he is making wine closer to his home in Oakland, about a 12 minute drive from the new winery in Berkeley!
Eli is the newest addition to the Covenant team. His first vintage at Covenant was in 2013, when he worked as a harvest intern. In 2014, Eli came on full time to work as cellarmaster. It’s a far cry from his roots growing up in the Chicago area. But Eli was trained in environmental science, so winemaking has come naturally to him. He has shown a flair for organization and quality control. It’s great to have him on board!