What do you do at Covenant?
I wear a lot of hats. My main job is the back of the house; overseeing financials and overall operations. I also coordinate the many pieces that make up Covenant Winery. As co-owner I work with Jeff on business strategies, too. I joined Covenant in 2006, when it was just Jeff, Jonathan and me. I’ve basicially done most everything. I helped develop the infrastructure which has helped us grow. Today we have a full time staff of five at the winery, so I can now do fun things like landscaping around the winery and make lunch and dinner for the crew (especially during harvest). I’m also the master planner of Jeff’s demanding travel schedule.
Jodie Morgan – Co-owner of Covenant Winery.
How did you get into the wine business?
I married into it! Jeff and I have been married for 31 years. But my introduction to the world of wine started with my father, who was an avid collector. I have great memories of food and wine pairing from an early age. As a child, I never imagined I’d own a winery! Dad would be proud.
What did you do prior to wine?
Professionally, I am trained as a social worker with a focus on youth and parent education. Once we moved to Napa Valley, we started writing cookbooks—nine of them, in fact! I was the chief recipe tester and also developed new recipes. It helped me find my own voice and passion for food and wine. Later I became the Executive Director of the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF) founded by Julia Child and Robert Mondavi. But in my 20’s, I was a florist and landscape designer. Now I’m a Master Gardner through UC Davis, which helps a lot with winery landscaping.
Would you say that wine has profoundly changed your life?
Absolutely. Wine has written the story of our entire family. Thirty years ago, Jeff’s transition from music to wine led us from New York City to a small winery on Long Island, New York. Then in 1995, Jeff’s job at Wine Spectator moved us from New York to California, where we raised our family—mostly in the Napa Valley. And Covenant inspired a reconnection to our Jewish roots. In addition, I’ve watched my life in wine mirror the role of women in wine over the last three decades. When we started out, there were very few women working in the industry. That has changed drastically, and I feel proud to be part of this evolution.
What’s it like working with your husband?
Fantastic. It’s great to have my life partner also be my business partner. We keep each other grounded and focused. I also know if I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about work, Jeff is probably awake thinking about the same thing!
Both your daughters work in the food and wine industry. Correct?
Our youngest daughter, Zoe, works with us in Israel. She coordinates hospitality in Tel Aviv and also works on marketing and sales. I talk to her daily, which is more than I can say we talked when she was in college! I love coming to work in Israel, because working with Zoe is also a bit like being on holiday.
Like Zoe, our oldest daughter, Skye, grew up surrounded by vineyards and the culture of wine in Napa Valley. It’s no surprise that she is now a successful restaurant publicist in New York City. We occasionally prevail upon her for her good judgement.
Jodie Morgan outside of Covenant’s production area in Berkeley, CA.
Where do you see Covenant 5 years from now?
I see continued strong sales, tremendous wine club growth, and continued high-quality wines coming from both California and Israel. I hope to find more ways to connect with our customers in terms of events at the winery and around the world.
And for yourself? How do you see the next decade?
I have no plans to retire. But I wouldn’t mind slowing down a little bit. Our crew in California and Israel have worked with Jeff and me for a long time. I feel confident in their ability to manage. I’m looking forward to doing a little more gardening and maybe finding time to take a real vacation!