Time flies. In 1989, I was working at a vineyard in New York’s Long Island wine country. Toward the end of a hot, humid summer, the vines took on new meaning for me as I drove my pregnant wife, Jodie, along the bumpy, dirt vineyard roads. We were hoping to coax our first daughter, Skye, out of the womb before harvest. She was born on August 21, right before the first grapes were picked. Three years later, I had morphed from vineyard and winery grunt to wine journalist. My first assignment for Wine Spectator was due the week our second daughter, Zoe, was born. Zoe was eight when I left the magazine to pursue winemaking once again—this time in Napa Valley.
Skye now lives in New York City and works as a publicist for some of America’s best known wine and spirit companies. Zoe lives in Tel Aviv and works for our Israeli wine company, Covenant Israel. I’ve got two kids in the wine business! (Continued below.)
Skye, Zoe, and Jeff, Inverness, California 2016
Both Skye and Zoe grew up surrounded by vineyards and the culture of wine. Wine was a part of our daily lives, and I’d like to think that Jodie and I taught Skye and Zoe the basics. We adults made wine, wrote about it and even penned eight cookbooks. The girls soaked it up by osmosis, and it doesn’t surprise me that they are now wine professionals.
But I think I’m learning more from them than they ever learned from me. As things move faster in the world, I’m having trouble keeping up. “Didn’t you get my text?” is the question I dread the most. And I’m not doing much better with my daily avalanche of emails. There is so much to read, watch, digest.
For my generation (I’m 63) it truly is a new era in communication. And I must admit that I’m not comfortable with it. I can’t seem to download anything successfully. My texting skills are rudimentary, and my fluency with Twitter and even Uber is dismal. Fortunately, Skye and Zoe are patient with me. They are my teachers.
While I may know lots of wine media from my generation, I don’t know many young bloggers and wine writers. Skye does, however. And slowly but surely she’s introducing them to me. The new voices in wine (and food) are the mainstream voices of tomorrow.
Zoe—in her sales and marketing role for our winery—has made Twitter, Instagram and Facebook part of our daily fare. And speaking of Facebook. OMG! I’ve avoided it like the plague not only because it’s a time sink; but also because it is somewhat incomprehensible to me. Without Facebook, however, I’ve been missing the boat. And though I’m now hearing that Facebook is passé, it’s unbelievable how many people do communicate with it! I mean, if you don’t come to the party, you might as well just give up and stay home. The party is online. So Zoe now gives me weekly Facebook tutorials. Hallelujah!
To be honest, the basics of making fine wine haven’t changed a whole lot. In fact, the more we move forward, the more we look backward. As in the old days, wines made with native yeast and without filtration or fining have again become commonplace. Less has become more—from pesticide use in the vineyards to sulfur additions in wine. So I don’t yet feel like a dinosaur in the cellar.
But my millennial daughters—age 25 and 27—are helping me in an equally important realm. Without their assistance, I couldn’t effectively navigate the world of 21st-century wine. Skye and Zoe keep me relevant, and they keep me connected. When they were little girls, I was their guide. But today I call them for guidance. It makes this father very proud.
Vintner Jeff Morgan is the co-owner of Covenant Winery, in California and Israel. He’s also the author of nine books on food and wine and a former wine journalist.