Jeff & Jodie Morgan and Leslie RuddVintners, Covenant Wines
Based in Napa Valley, Jeff is a winemaker, author, journalist and wine educator. His articles have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Elle, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator and the Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of seven food and wine books including: Dean & DeLuca: The Food and Wine Cookbook; The Working Parents Cookbook (written with his wife, Jodie); Rosé, A Guide to the World’s Most Versatile Wine; The PlumpJack Cookbook: Great meals for Good Living ; Domaine Chandon Cookbook: Recipes from étoile; and Simply Fresh, with Ruby Tuesday.
In addition to his writing pursuits, Jeff also teaches at the Culinary Institute of America’s Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies in Napa Valley. His interest in food and wine first blossomed in Southern France, where he lived and worked for nearly a decade as a musician, 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.
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 seven 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.
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. Leslie was also the driving force behind the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America’s Napa Valley campus.
Although still in his early 30s, Jonathan has worked on nearly every vintage of Covenant. 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, where production remains today.