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Aged to Perfection

Barbara Bensoussan

When Jeff Morgan decided to create the best kosher wine in 5,000 years, it was more than a vintner’s competition. For the wine guru who initially knew nothing about kosher except that wine needed a mashgiach, handling the sacred beverage eventually intoxicated his own thirsty soul.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Events Room at Chelsea Pier is a long, carpeted space, which, having been built onto a pier, gives visitors the impression of floating on an ocean liner. The floor-to-ceiling windows look out over choppy, gray waters and boats, and a tiny Statue of Liberty is just barely visible in the distance. Today, for the 2013 Kosher Wine and Food Expo, the room is packed with table upon table of kosher wine and spirits producers, and noisy with the clinking of wine glasses and conversation you could call “spirited” in more ways than one.

At a small table near the main entrance stands the coterie from a small kosher winery in theNapaValleycalled Covenant. They don’t proffer a huge selection; there are bottles of red and white wine marked with a large, stylized, red C, and other bottles bearing a colorful label reminiscent of a Chagall stained-glass window. These beauties don’t go cheaply. The special “Red C” (play on words about the biblical miracle

entirely intentional) retails for $45, while the Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon is valued at $100 a bottle.

Covenant’s owner, Jeff Morgan, is there, shaking hands and smiling, looking elated to be among fellow Jewish wine enthusiasts. Tall and thin in a light-colored suit and cowboy boots, he has a trimmed, graying beard, and a yarmulke rests on top of his close-cropped hair. Morgan has thin, refined features with round, black eyes that suggest a certain intelligence and depth. Jeff Morgan is a man with a mission: He wants to produce the best kosher wine in the last 5,000 years. While many people find their connection back to Judaism in an oblique manner — via an interest in music, history, or spirituality —in Jeff’s case, it seems divinely ordained that the deep affinity he developed for wine would one day be the key to unlocking his Jewish soul. In the process, he has lit new lamps for kosher winemakers seeking to raise their craft to global standards.

“Getting hooked on wine led me to much bigger things,” he avers. “In retrospect, it seems extraordinary that a beverage was able to give me both a career and a calling.”


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