Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

SEP-OCT 2018

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Jeff Morgan's quest to produce the best kosher wine in the world When wine writer Gabriel Geller heard about the man behind Covenant winery, he knew it was an inspiring story, one worth telling. "It's a story of faith, entrepreneurship, and chutzpah," said Geller, who also serves as VP of Public Relations for Royal Wine Corp., distributor of Covenant wines in the United States. In 2002, Jeff Morgan was at a winemaking conference in Napa Valley when an intriguing topic came up: why aren't there more good kosher wines? e question led the journalist-turned- winemaker on a quest to produce not just a great kosher wine, but the best kosher wine in the world. It was a risk. As a long-time writer for Wine Spectator, Morgan knew that kosher wines had come a long way over the past few decades. But he had never made kosher wine before. In fact, his upbringing was so secular that his family had Christmas trees and he had never attended synagogue. Morgan teamed up with food and wine entrepreneur Leslie Rudd, a fellow non-observant Jew and owner of some of Napa's most prized vineyards. They enlisted the help of Herzog Wine Cellars, secured OU certification, and the Covenant label was born. The first vintage was a cabernet sauvignon made from Napa grapes, released in 2003, that earned high praises from Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate. Two years later, Robert Parker declared Covenant "one of the finest kosher wines on Planet Earth." As the raves kept coming, Covenant became a boutique brand with a cult-like following. Meanwhile, Morgan realized how little he knew about Judaism. So, he decided to reconnect with his Jewish roots – teaching himself Hebrew, reading Torah, laying tefillin – with his wife and business partner Jodie along for the spiritual ride. In 2007 he became a bar mitzvah. e couple became active in an Orthodox congregation in California. It was during a visit to Israel some 15 years ago when Morgan sampled an impressive Domaine du Castel Grand Vin, produced in the Judean Hills, and had an epiphany: If he could make kosher wine A WINEMAKER'S SPIR ITUAL JOUR NEY Written by Vicki Garfinkel / Photos courtesy of Covenant 54

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