Jordan has been producing California wines of balance since 1972–long enough to grow relationships with some very devoted fans. Consumers, sommeliers and chefs, as well as respected journalists, helped make Jordan the successful winery it is today. There were also some brushes with fame. In the early days, the Jordans brought together the country’s top restaurateurs, journalists, socialites and celebrities to taste Jordan wines over dinner at the winery chateau in Healdsburg. Dinner party guests included author Danielle Steel and her then vintner-husband John Traina, Russian politician Mikhail Gorbachev, actress Sharon Stone, singer Liza Minnelli, English actor Michael Caine, the late actor-director Burgess Meredith and the late economist-author Paul Erdman–to name a few. Chefs Wolfgang Puck, the late Paul Bocuse and Drew Nieporent all spent time at Jordan Estate too. Movie stars Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn rode bikes up the Jordan driveway in the early 1980s–long before there were tours and tastings–and ended up meeting Winemaker Rob Davis and receiving the ultimate private tasting. Before email, before the internet, the only way these moments were captured and shared was through the whip-sharp memory of Mrs. Jordan and Rob. And, an old Kodak camera, if we were lucky.
Then came social media. Today, we are humbled how Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have helped us discover a number of professional athletes, television journalists, reality television stars, and famous actors and actresses who enjoy our classic California wines. Social media has also made it easier to chat directly with our fans, such as sports legends like the NFL’s Troy Aikman and Nascar’s Michael Waltrip. It’s been so rewarding to watch our circle of friends grow wider on the web. Here are a few other celebrities with an affinity for Jordan wine.
Celebrities Who Love California Wines
Jordan Bratman, Christina Aguilera and Stephen Webster in Las Vegas in 2006. Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Weekly.
1. Christina Aguilera took Jordan wines on tour
Rumor has it that Christina Aguilera had Jordan wines on her tour rider for years—not only because she loves a good glass of cabernet, but also because way back when, she was dating music industry executive Jordan Bratman. They had a magical (and super-secret) four-day wedding in nearby Napa Valley. Unfortunately, the marriage lasted just four years before Christina divorced Jordan. We’re pretty confident that she only divorced Jordan the man, not Jordan the wine.
Photo courtesy of Hollywood Reporter.
2. Meghan Markle intrigued by Jordan Cabernet
Meghan Markle, the “Suits” star and bride-to-be of the UK’s Prince Harry, is a well-known wine aficionado who mentioned Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon in a Today.com article about her favorite foods and beverages. Will Jordan Cabernet appear on the menu at the royal wedding? Not likely, as they’ve just chosen an English winery for this nuptial pours. But we are trying to send them an engagement gift, and we wish Prince Harry and Meghan all the best on their special day.
3. Courtney Cox’s character on “Cougar Town” guzzled Jordan wine
Courtney Cox swigged a Jordan Cabernet on her hit TV show “Cougar Town,” showcasing the “Guzzle Buddy,” a device that “turns your bottle into your glass.” (An interesting side note: So many viewers contacted the show wondering where they could buy the device that you can now buy the “Guzzle Buddy” on Amazon.)
4. Jordan Chardonnay made a guest appearance on “The Big Bang Theory”
Jordan wine also had a spotlight moment when a bottle of our chardonnay appeared in a scene of the hit TV show, “The Big Bang Theory.” The show is about geeky-but-brilliant young scientists in Southern California, so the obvious conclusion is that the greatest of minds can appreciate Jordan wines.
Hector Maldonado and Jimmy Stafford of Train (left) with John Jordan and guest at Jordan Winery’s 40th anniversary party in Los Angeles in 2012.
5. Train guitarist Jimmy Stafford is a big fan of Jordan wines
Train guitarist Jimmy Stafford hasn’t kept his love of Jordan’s wines a secret. When The San Jose Mercury News asked where he likes to taste when he’s home in Northern California, Stafford said, “I love Jordan Winery in Sonoma.” And Stafford knows a thing or two about California wines—he and the band developed Save Me, the San Francisco wine label. Their Drops of Jupiter California Red won a gold medal in the San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition. Jimmy also attended Jordan Winery’s 40th birthday party in Los Angeles in 2012, and he and Train lead singer Patrick Monahan were featured in the 2015 video tribute to Jordan winemaker Rob Davis on the 40th anniversary of his first harvest at Jordan.
Rob Davis | 40th Harvest at Jordan | Friends, Celebrity Video Messages - YouTube
It’s not every day that celebrities grace our Alexander Valley estate, but who knows, your next visit to Jordan could include a brush with fame.
Join our rewards program and earn bonus points that you can use toward exclusive guest privileges at our Alexander Valley estate. It’s our way of sharing the best food, wine and hospitality that Jordan has to offer.
John Jordan believes successful businesses should play an active role in improving the lives of citizens in need. That’s why he decided to put his beliefs into action and founded The John Jordan Foundation (JJF). A significant portion of the proceeds from Jordan Winery fund the foundation, which works to fight the negative effects of poverty. JJF provides financial and technical support to numerous nonprofits, with an emphasis on childhood education, income stability and health services. One charity that the winery’s foundation has chosen to support is the Family Justice Center Sonoma County (FJCSC).
The Family Justice Center organization helps victims and survivors of domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual assault and child abuse by providing convenient access to comprehensive support services under one roof. The police department, sheriff’s office, district attorney, health and human services, legal advisors, sexual assault counselors, and other community and religious organizations all have dedicated offices inside the FJC, and the center also raises money for those nonprofit partners.
“It is a fantastic model for the families and individuals it serves,” says Lisa Wittke Schaffner, executive director of JJF, who has sat on the FJCSC board since 2014. “In most communities, victims have to move all around the county to get help from these nonprofits, agencies and public servants. When people are recovering from this type of trauma, they need the inconveniences of transportation and traffic removed so they can focus on healing.”
According to Executive Director Wes Winter, the center serves roughly 1,600 victims each year.
“We help people of all ages, from cradle to rocking chair,” he says. “When people have been through trauma, and they don’t know where else to turn, they come to us. We protect the vulnerable, stop the violence and restore hope.”
As Winter explains it, when a victim comes into the FJCSC for services, he or she initially meets with a Navigator. This person helps the victim determine which services he or she needs to access with the center. Nonprofit partners located at the FJC include the YWCA of Sonoma County, Legal Aid of Sonoma County, Verity (sexual assault support services), the Council on Aging and Catholic Charities, to name a few. The John Jordan Foundation plays two key roles in the delivery of these services. For starters, direct monetary donations allow the FJCSC to fund nonprofit partners so they can continue providing services on-site. According to Winter, the FJCSC could not do its work without support from organizations like The John Jordan Foundation.
“We get federal dollars through the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women and the Office for Victims of Crime, but we need to augment those resources with community funds,” he says. “Support from John Jordan, his foundation, and Jordan Winery is critical to our survival and success.”
Our first blind tasting episode, this month’s Jordan Uncorked video features two chardonnays from the same vintage, but from different wine regions on different continents. Join our winemakers as they head to Autocamp in west Sonoma County to taste a 2011 Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay and a 2011 Meursault-Charmes from Domaine Boyer-Martenot.
2011 was a challenging vintage for both Northern California and Burgundy, France. Weather in Sonoma County was very cool–one of the coldest on record–leading to very crisp, precise wines. Burgundy had rollercoaster whether from spring to fall, and many producers elected to harvest their grapes before they finished ripening. According to Decanter, Meursault was probably the best of the Côte de Beaune villages, with wines “showing the right balance between succulence and tension.” When the 2011 Jordan Chardonnay released, journalists and sommeliers often used it in educational blind tastings to try to stump the sommeliers, many of whom guessed it was French.
That’s why Associate Winemaker Maggie Kruse and Assistant Winemaker John Duckett decided to uncork two older chardonnays from 2011 side-by-side in our monthly video series, Jordan Uncorked. What vintage would you like to see them uncork next? Leave your comments below for a chance to be featured.
Winter is an important time of rejuvenation in wine country. All winter long, the vineyards sleep, resting and recharging for the intense growing season that is soon to come.
By November or December, the grapevines enter into their winter dormancy phase, losing the last of their leaves and leaving only bare cane shoots in their canopies. During this phase, the woody trunks and roots of the vines conserve energy and hoard valuable carbohydrate reserves, which will prove vital in the spring when the vines wake from their winter sleep and begin producing fruit. This dormant period is the ideal time for the vines to be pruned of their old wood (check out our Winter Grapevine Pruning Photo Gallery to view this process).
Pruning Grapevines is Part Art, Part Science
Like winemaking, grapevine pruning is part science, part art, and doing it right determines the size of the harvest and the quality of the wine. Last year’s canes, which are now surrounded by a layer of wood, are removed to facilitate fresh new growth.
The work is laborious and expensive. It takes four people working nine hours a day, six days a week for about three months to prune Jordan’s 112 estate vineyard acres. It’s hard work that can lead to employee injuries without safety training—usually strained shoulders, hands or back muscles. Thanks to advances in grapevine pruning technology, we now have pruning machines to help lighten the load.
The machine pruner handles the first, most physical part of the cutting, and then our team will follow and hand prune the grapevines in the second phase. Preventing employee injuries is a top priority, but the benefits of machine pruning vastly improve efficiency and precision, too. Modern machine pruners have automated sensors that open and close their jaws around the metal stakes in the vineyard row and end posts. The pruners’ blades comb through the vineyard’s canopy and slice off the wood without cutting the delicate trellis wires. It’s a meticulous piece of equipment that allows us to maintain the quality of our viticultural practices, save time and expense, and keep our staff safe at the same time.
Our Two-Phase Grapevine Pruning Process
In the first pruning phase, we cut back last year’s growth, cutting each cane to about 12 to 15 inches from the trunk. Later in the season, we do “finish pruning,” during which we leave only the shoots that will produce fruit in the coming season.
Because this second pruning comes during the rainy season, it protects the permanent structure of the vines from fungi taking up residence in the newer growth. By trimming off this growth, we prevent the fungi from becoming established in the vine.
While machines can help with the first round of pruning, the second round can only be done properly by hand. We take each of the 2 ½ to 3-foot long canes down to one cane per spur and two buds per cane. Each of these buds will then grow into new canes that will bear this year’s fruit. Each cane will produce two clusters of grapes.
Pruning is important for maintaining the structural integrity, consistency, and predictability of the vineyard. If we know the acreage of the vineyard, along with the row and vine spacing, and each arm grows two shoots, and each shoot grows two clusters of fruit, we can fairly accurately estimate the yield of the year’s crop. Not only does pruning help us to predict our crop yields, but it also keeps the vineyard organized. And it looks nice, too.
After the vineyard team finishes pruning the grapevines, we move on to pruning our 18 acres of olive trees. While it takes just one minute to prune a grapevine, an olive tree—due to its size and number of branches—requires 10 minutes of grooming to create proper shaping and light exposure. As with grapevines, proper pruning fosters fertility and efficient picking at harvest. In this video, our former vineyard manager discusses the olive tree pruning process at Jordan and how we reuse our wood cuttings.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Jordan Winery’s loyalty program Jordan Estate Rewards, we recently announced a series of promotional perks, new events and giveaways that will be happening every month in 2018. This page offers a complete guide to the Jordan Winery 2018 Facebook fan contest. Our most engaged Facebook fan receives a special gift each month, from a linen Jordan apron and Riedel decanter to a beautiful rosewood salad bowl and a Champagne saber. Share, like and comment on our posts. Each type of Facebook engagement–a like, a share, a comment–gets you points. The fan with the most points at the end of each month wins. Gold and Platinum members of Jordan Estate Rewards are also encouraged to use hashtags for the anniversary year – #goldpays and #itpaystobeplatinum – but hashtags are not required as part of the contest. See official rules for all details. Highlights, including a list of prizes organized by month, are included below.
HOW TO ENTER OUR FACEBOOK CONTEST
To enter the contest, go to the Jordan Winery Facebook page and begin liking, commenting and sharing Jordan posts. The most engaged Facebook fan wins each month. A new contest will be held each month of the year.
FACEBOOK CONTEST JUDGING
Each Facebook engagement receives a specific number of points.
Like a Jordan post = 1 point
Comment on a Jordan post = 2 points
Share one of your photos on a Jordan post or on the Jordan Facebook page = 3 points
Share our post in your Facebook feed = 5 points
The Facebook fan with the most points at the end of each month wins.
Points will be tabulated after 8 a.m. PST on the first day of each month. A new points cycle begins each month on the first day of each month. No purchase of Jordan wine is required to enter. Void where prohibited.
At the end of the year, all points for all contest entries will be tabulated, and the most engaged fan with the most points overall will receive a one (1) night stay at the Jordan Winery Chateau, available on select days in 2019.
Not sure whether to keep aging that bottle of red wine in your cellar or drink it? In this episode of our “Jordan Uncorked” wine tasting videos, Assistant Winemaker John Duckett and Associate Winemaker Maggie Kruse taste a 2008 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon at AutoCamp Russian River in Guerneville, California.
What bottle of wine would you like to see our winemakers uncork next, and where would you like them to taste it? Leave your comments below for a chance to be featured.
Jordan Vineyard & Winery has received its first Good Food Award for the Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar by Tsar Nicoulai. It was the only caviar bestowed the honor by Alice Waters, Nell Newman and Madhur Jaffrey as part of the 2018 Good Food Awards ceremony on January 19.
Hosted at the War Memorial’s Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, the Good Food Awards brought together 900 of the nation’s leading food producers, grocers, chefs, journalists and activists to recognize the 199 Good Food Award winners of 2018—American food and drink crafters who demonstrate a commitment to creating delicious, authentic and responsible products. According to the Good Food Awards, the 2018 winners are not only commended for their creativity but also for their sustainable production methods, which showcase the highest social and environmental standards. These producers protect the land, continue to push the bounds of their craft, and respect their peers, all the while redefining the breadth of the American table.
Hand-crafted in collaboration with Jordan Executive Chef Todd Knoll, the Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar debuted in 2017. It is a small-batch caviar that combines Tsar Nicoulai’s sustainable methods of high-quality farming in Northern California with Chef Knoll’s affinity for the Sonoma Coast, captured through a homemade cure. To create this caviar, Knoll harvested salt water and kombu (a mineral-rich type of kelp) from the Sonoma Coast, dehydrated the kombu and then let it infuse with a chilled bath of the collected salt water for three days before kombu was removed and final evaporation occurred, making the caviar’s essential cure. Tsar Nicoulai sustainably harvested the roe from 100 percent California white sturgeon raised at the company’s farm in Sacramento County before the chef applied the infused sea salt for an eight-week cure. The Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar by Tsar Nicoulai is sold exclusively at www.jordanwinery.com/shop for $135 per ounce, including overnight shipping.
The foundation for this partnership, apart from a long friendship between Tsar Nicoulai and Jordan, was the careful selection of a specific caviar for the chef’s cure. Tsar Nicoulai produces 15 varieties of the cured sturgeon roe, and the reserve-level caviar was chosen for its supple pairing with the new Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble and Jordan Chardonnay. Reserve-grade caviar originates from Tsar Nicoulai’s finest California white sturgeon with genetic strains dating back 20 years. Fish must be a minimum of eight years old and meet the company’s standards of grain size and bead quality, attributes which come not only from genetic lineage kept exclusively at its farm in Wilton, Calif., but also from the low density of the ponds and thus low stress levels of fish. As with all Tsar Nicoulai products, this caviar was carefully produced and selected without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, GMOs or synthetic preservatives, creating a caviar of the highest quality and integrity for enjoyment.
The Good Food Awards recognized food and beverage products in 15 categories (beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, cider, coffee, confections, elixirs, fish, honey, oils, pantry, pickles, preserves and spirits). The 2018 winners hailed from 34 states and D.C.—each selected from 2,057 entries in a blind tasting with 277 judges, which was held in September. The highest scoring entries were submitted to a rigorous vetting process to verify they met the sustainability and social responsibility criteria to win a Good Food Award. Of the 199 winners selected from 280 finalists, 113 companies (57 percent) are first-time winners.
Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar is incorporated into winery dinners, other culinary events and seasonal food pairings on Tours & Tastings at Jordan Winery. Jordan also offers a private Champagne & Caviar Tasting for members.
January means it’s time to announce Jordan Winery’s 2018 special event calendar, with several exciting changes to our Healdsburg events line-up. Highlights include more seasonal vineyard hikes, a special new release reveal tasting, which can also be streamed live online, and a new Jordan Estate Rewards 10th Anniversary Dinner.
Named one of the five best hiking trails in Healdsburg by San Francisco Chronicle, Jordan Winery’s hike across the 1,200-acre Jordan Estate in Healdsburg has new twists for 2018. In addition its popular morning hikes, afternoon hikes have been added to the calendar, with eight hiking adventures total available in April, May, June, October and November. A new hiking route is also being researched.
As part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the winery’s loyalty program, Jordan Estate Rewards, a one-of-a-kind dinner is being hosted on May 19 for Gold and Platinum members. Created in 2008, Jordan Estate Rewards allows customers to accrue points for access to exclusive food and wine experiences. For all purchases made in person at the winery, by phone or online, members earn three points per dollar to redeem toward private tastings, dinner parties and more.
A complete list of 2018 Jordan Winery events follows, featuring winter, spring, summer and fall events–all hosted at Jordan Winery in Alexander Valley–minutes from downtown Healdsburg. If you’re looking for things to do in Healdsburg this year, here’s a great start to your Sonoma vacation planning. Those interested in enjoying any of the events are encouraged to sign up to receive Jordan Winery’s monthly newsletter and become a rewards member.
The unforgettable evening features a seven, decadent courses paired with multiple vintages of Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Hosted exclusively for Gold & Platinum Jordan Estate Rewards members.
Join us for our first Jordan New Release Reveal Tasting, a preview of three exciting new vintages hosted in the barrel room by John Jordan and Winemaker Rob Davis. Open to the Public. Tickets go on sale in February.
Indulge in a seven-course, supper-club-style dinner celebrating the flavors of spring. Served in Jordan’s dining room. Hosted exclusively for Silver, Gold & Platinum Jordan Estate Rewards members. Tickets go on sale in March.
April 20 & 21, 2018, 9:45 a.m.-2 p.m.; May 10 & 11, 2018, 1:45 p.m.-6 p.m. $95
The ultimate wine tasting experience for nature lovers, the Jordan Vineyard & Winery hiking excursion is offered during the morning or afternoon on set dates, and features mountain views, wildlife, vineyards, lakes, wine tasting, a picnic and more. Open to the public. Tickets go on sale in March.
Celebrate a decade of Jordan’s popular loyalty program with festive, four-course wine dinner hosted in the winery’s historic oak tank room. Available exclusively to Silver, Gold & Platinum Jordan Estate Rewards members. Tickets go on sale in April.
The ultimate wine tasting experience for nature lovers, the Jordan Vineyard & Winery afternoon hiking excursion features mountain views, wildlife, lakes, wine tasting, a picnic and more. Open to the public. Tickets go on sale in May.
A four-course meal, served in an open-air pavilion, is paired with Jordan wines and panoramic views of Alexander Valley’s rolling hills and mountains during sunset on Jordan Estate’s highest hilltop. Open to the public. Tickets go on sale in May.
Revel in the spirit of French gastronomy with Jordan’s Bastille Day dinner party, featuring a four-course, al fresco dinner with Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble, Jordan Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Open to the public. Tickets go on sale in May.
Experience a celebration of Sonoma County agriculture with a four-course, al fresco dinner party that brings the region’s greatest culinary treasures to your plate. Open to the public. Tickets go on sale in May.
September 22, September 29 & October 6, 2018, 9:45 a.m.-3 p.m. $200
Immerse yourself in the bountiful harvest season with Jordan’s interactive harvesting, shopping and cooking experience, taking guests from the winery garden and Healdsburg’s farmers market to Relish Culinary Adventures for a hands-on cooking class and lunch with wine tasting. Open to the public. Tickets go on sale in July. Official dates announced closer to harvest season.
September 10-October 5, 2018, 11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m. $25-$50 **
Experience our annual feast celebrating the grape harvest season alongside our winemaking and viticulture staff with our annual winery harvest lunch series. Available exclusively to Jordan Estate Rewards members. Tickets go on sale in July.
October 24 & November 1, 2018, 9:45 a.m.-2 p.m. $95
The ultimate wine tasting experience for nature lovers, the Jordan Vineyard & Winery morning hiking excursion features mountain views, wildlife, vineyards, lakes, wine tasting, a picnic and more. Tickets go on sale in May.
Enjoy fall in Sonoma County wine country with an olive harvest experience, featuring an olive oil component tasting, a sumptuous three-course lunch and an optional olive harvest demonstration. Tickets go on sale in September.
Celebrate the holidays with our festive Christmas at Jordan party, featuring lavish décor, entertainment, library wines and our chef’s cuisine. Available exclusively to Jordan Estate Rewards members. Tickets go on sale in October.
Every year for the Jordan Winery employee holiday party, we create a compilation video of our favorite bloopers, outtakes and behind the scenes footage from all the Jordan Winery videos shot that year. Thirty Jordan wine and food videos were “uncorked” in 2017. Thank you for watching!
Most people know Jordan as one of the top cabernet sauvignon brands they choose when dining at a nice restaurant or their favorite winery to visit in Napa and Sonoma for food and wine pairings. As a family winery that has been making wine in California since the pioneering days of the 1970s, we have hundreds of interesting stories to tell that haven’t been told. Here are a handful of revealing facts about Jordan Winery that may surprise you.
10 Surprising Stories Revealed About Jordan Winery
The 1976 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was made with 1 percent pinot noir.
Back story: The inclusion of pinot noir in Jordan’s first vintage of cabernet sauvignon was not intentional. Back then, Winemaker Rob Davis made the Jordan malolactic fermentation culture in-house, and to prepare enough culture for the inaugural harvest, he needed mature grapes that could be fermented into wine, inoculated with the malolactic culture and be ready when Jordan’s first merlot grapes finished their primary alcohol fermentation. Because pinot noir is an early-maturing grape, six tons were purchased from a nearby grower in Alexander Valley, Dale Good. (Yes—pinot noir was actually planted in cabernet country back in the 1970s.) It wasn’t until Rob had to configure the varietal percentages for the government label before bottling that he realized the pinot noir malolactic culture had to be legally recorded.
Wild animals ate like kings at Jordan Estate in the early years.
Back story: In the 1980s, 36 peacocks arrived at the Winery Chateau every morning, ready for breakfast: rum cake from Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg. A golden eagle named Edgar also flew by in the morning and evening to swoop down upon his daily snack—a ball of lean ground beef that Sally Jordan placed on the end of her golf club.
Périgord truffles in the Jordan kitchen.
The Jordan’s attempt to grow black truffles on the estate ended in tragedy.
Back story: Tom Jordan dreamed of growing black truffles on Jordan Estate, so much so that he’d been using the Jordan barrel room as a “green house” for roots that he hoped would someday bear truffles. Truffle spores were also planted in the “magic circle” at the base of several large oak trees northwest of the winery. Sally spent months researching the perfect French truffle hound, which was carefully brought to the United States by its handler in the mid-1980s. The dog arrived in January and was hidden in a shed by the winery, awaiting the big birthday surprise the following day. Sadly, someone left his cage unlocked, and the dog wandered down the winery driveway and was killed by a passing car. The truffle growing project at Jordan was abandoned.
Maribel Soto and Claire Smith from the Jordan management team.
Female supervisors outnumber males 3 to 2 at Jordan Winery.
Back story: As of 2017, there are nine women in supervisory positions at Jordan Winery and six men. If you’ve ever met Sally Jordan, you’ll understand why John Jordan has surrounded himself with strong, talented women to help lead Jordan into its next era.
The 1996 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was made with 1.2 percent petite sirah.
Back story: One of the warmest growing seasons in Jordan history, 1996 experienced five days with temperatures of 114 degrees, which stressed Jordan’s cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapevines to the brink. The vines shut down to protect themselves and aborted half of their clusters—a process explained in our 2017 harvest report . The remaining grapes were still so far from physiological ripeness, and as the season progressed, many clusters tasted green with little color. Others turned to raisins. Rob jumped into triage mode and found a grower vineyard in a slightly cooler climate—in neighboring Mendocino County—which didn’t suffer the heat damages of Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. Jack Cox of Ukiah, Calif., became a lifesaver that vintage, providing Jordan with beautiful cabernet sauvignon grapes that had an attractive lift of acidity and cherry fruit. To help give the wine more color and flavor, Rob blended in some amazing petite sirah from Jack’s other vineyard in Hopland, just over the Mendocino County border. To help mask the weak fruit complexity of the vintage without contributing excessive tannins, Rob aged the wine in mostly American oak in 1996. (Jack Cox’s Petite Sirah was so good, we made a small amount of wine for his hunting club too.)
The back label for the first J by Jordan sparkling wine.
Jordan made sparkling wine at its Healdsburg winery for six years.
Back story: During a Christmas vacation to Hawaii in 1986, Judy Jordan, daughter of Tom and Sally Jordan, proposed an idea to her father about creating a sparkling wine. J by Jordan was born as a new business owned by Judy and her father. The first few vintages of J were made at Jordan Winery, from 1987 to 1993, using what was called “an alternating proprietorship” in legal terms. After J was finished using a fermentation tank at Jordan, the winemakers had to wait 24 hours before they could use the tank for Jordan wine. In 1993, Tom Jordan helped Judy purchase the old Piper Sonoma sparkling wine facility on Old Redwood Highway just south of Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley, and J moved from Jordan to its new home. For decades, J Vineyards & Winery was considered Jordan’s sister property, and we poured J sparkling wine at dinner parties for trade guests and meals for Jordan Estate Rewards members, as well as for marriage proposals that happened on the property. When Judy sold J to E&J Gallo in the spring of 2015, the Jordan and J tie came to an end. (That’s when John Jordan decided that serving sparkling wine at Jordan was a tradition we were not willing to let go, hence the new partnership with the Malassagne family in Champagne.)
Firefighters showed up at the first family Thanksgiving dinner hosted at the winery.
Back story: Thanksgiving dinner preparations were almost complete in the winery kitchen, from the turkey basting to the mashed potatoes and Mrs. Jordan’s famous cranberry sauce, when suddenly the building’s new emergency sirens went off. No one could find the off switch. No one could find smoke or any other emergency either. Many minutes later, just as the fire truck was charging up the driveway, the blaring horns stopped. Silence. Winemaker Rob Davis had climbed around the Oak Tank Room until he found the master switch. Mrs. Jordan insisted that Rob sit at the head of the table since he was the hero of the day.
The second story of Jordan Winery’s barrel room.
Jordan has completely changed its philosophy on wine barrels since the inaugural 1976 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.
Back story: American oak was the foundation for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon back in the 1970s and 1980s, making up about 50% of the barrels used for wine aging. Like many pioneers during the California wine “Gold Rush,” the Jordans believed that American oak was a natural complement to a classic California cabernet sauvignon. Tom Jordan wanted to pay equal tribute to the Bordeaux wines that inspired him to start Jordan, and the Beaulieu Vineyard’s Georges de Latour, aged with American barrels, that made him change his mind about the potential of California cabernet in the 1960s. So, the first few decades of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in 50% American and 50% French oak barrels. After ten years of refining which vineyards, blocks and growers are best-suited for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, we’ve recently found a whole new level of balance in winegrowing—Bordeaux grapes that achieve ideal ripeness at lower sugar levels grown in vineyards with well-drained soils that are quite resilient to Mother Nature’s quirks. The black fruit expression and concentration in Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon naturally increased, and French oak is superior in its ability to frame and better showcase the intensity of fruit in the wine. When looking at Jordan tasting notes, you’ll notice that the percentage of French oak has been increasing since John Jordan took the reins in 2005. Beginning with the 2015 vintage, Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon will be aged in 100% French oak barrels.
The southeast corner of Jordan Estate today with Mount St. Helena in the distance.
The Jordans didn’t purchase Jordan Estate; they swapped for it.
Back story: After Tom and Sally Jordan planted their first vineyard in 1972, they began to search for an ideal site to build Jordan Winery. The only choice, in their minds, was a 1,200-acre parcel of rolling hills covered with pastures and oak forests, situated just above their valley floor vineyard. As Sally Jordan explained in a
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