20 Sep Covenant: Our Story
In 2003, Covenant founders Jeff Morgan and Leslie Rudd were inspired to bring a new California perspective to a 3500-year-old winemaking tradition. What started as a 500-case Napa Cabernet Sauvignon project has now grown more than ten-fold. Today, Covenant’s 9,000-square-foot urban winery is situated in Berkeley, California, also home to other urban wineries.
Founded in Napa Valley in 2003, Covenant Winery is now located in the urban “Drinks District” of Berkeley, California. The 9,000-square foot winery is situated in a neighborhood that is also home to other urban wineries and breweries.
From the start, Covenant was critically acclaimed by such reviewers as Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. In 2004, Jeff met a young winemaker named Jonathan Hajdu, who was working with a custom crush crew at Covenant’s then custom facility in the Central Coast. Jonathan came on full-time with Covenant in 2008, when production was transferred to Napa Valley. New vineyards and varieties have been incorporated subsequently. Covenant now makes some 20 wines in California sourced from vineyards located in Santa Maria, the Santa Rita Hills, Sonoma, Napa, Lake County and Lodi. Since 2013, Covenant has also made a small amount of wine in Israel under the Covenant Israel label.
By 2014, Jeff and his wife, Jodie, decided it was time to leave Napa Valley, where they had raised their two daughters, to build a new urban winery in Berkeley, California—about an hour’s drive from many of their vineyard sources. Today Covenant Winery is a large, refurbished industrial warehouse and former garage. Dare we call Covenant “garagiste?”
Jeff and Jodie’s daughter, Zoë, joined Covenant in 2017 and is Covenant’s Operations Coordinator. Our extended Covenant family also includes our Managing Director, Sagie Kleinlerer, a holder of the esteemed WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines and is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. A former Advertising Executive and a corporate and IP attorney in New York and California, he joined Covenant in 2016.
Sadly, in May of 2018, founding co-founder Leslie Rudd lost a five-year battle with cancer. We miss him dearly. His encouragement and support over the years were critical to Covenant’s success. In 2019, Covenant brought on a new partner—Geoff Rochwarger—who lives in Israel. Geoff has a longtime passion for wine and is a longtime friend of Covenant. We are delighted to have him on our team.