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Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living. - Robert Mondavi

Jordan Winery - Your French Chateau awaits in Healdsburg

Thursday, September 6, 2012
In a town like Healdsburg that is far more quaint and rural than it’s cousin, Napa, passing by the ensconced, gated property of Jordan Winery, always gave me the impression that it would be a cold and aloof sort of experience.  Alas, I decided to test out my theory and was proved wrong in my assumptions.  Jordan winery was a rarefied experience, but mainly due to it’s techonology high quality wine and food pairing and impeccable hospitality - there was not a hint of snobbery or arrogance here.   The Jordans founded Jordan Winery in 1972, bringing sophistication and elegance with them to California with the dream of recreating their favorite experience of a French Chauteau. They parlayed hard work and vision to set a standard for California-produced, European-inspired wine and hospitality which is still held at Jordan Vineyard & Winery 40 years later.  Grapes were first planted in 1974 and the Bordeaux inspired Chateau was built in 1976, the same year that winemaker Rob Davis (age 22 at the time) was hired. 

Mr. Jordan felt that Rob had an “Old World” palate, which sat well well for him as he had ever had a sip of California wine until 1972.  Rob Davis eventually became distinguished asthe only California winemaker to work at a singular winery for 35 years and remains the winemaker at Jordan today. Upon graduation from University of California at Davis in 1976, Rob began working hand-in-hand with famed winemaker André Tchelistcheff to craft the inaugural vintage of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.  Rob’s commitment to the timeless qualities of balance, elegance and finesse never wavered during the winemaking trend of stylizing heavily oaked, high-alcohol wines and impressed critics in blind tastings. Rob’s focus has been creating food-friendly wines that are enjoyable upon release yet worthy of cellaring and he has maintained this style for decades.

In 2005, John Jordan took over the winery from his father.  John was more or a renaissance man and parlayed his business background to give a fresh perspective to the winery, elevating its environmental stewardship, farming practices, hospitality experience and commitment to quality. John still makes a point to come to the winery every day, gracing guests with his approachable style and personality.  John let’s Rob make the winemaking decisions while he oversees the quality of the winery while engaging in his passions for flying and fishing.  John built a fishing pond with a man-made island and a runway for his private plane on the property and also built his own home within the vicinity of the Chateau.  As CEO, John wanted the winery to embody a sense of “understated elegance”.  While the Chateau is regal, the property is more rustic and down to earth with an organic vegetable garden for organic produce used by the chefs and sunflowers to decorate tables on the outside terrace patio.  John makes sure that the property remains a friendly environment to both herbivores and carnivores, and recycles the water used in his pond for everything from watering the vineyards to cleaning the barrels.  Jordan recently invested $2.5 million into the installation of 70 solar panels, and the winery can now run 100% off the grid.  

The Jordan tour was informative, impressive and engaging.  After walking a bit of the property, we made our way into one of the most well-kept fermentation rooms I’ve seen in Sonoma county.  Jordan is among the wineries who subscribe to the practice of night-harvest, and during harvest seasons, the grapes are picked at 1:00 am.  Grapes are picked, crushed, and moved into massive 12,000 gallon tanks that can hold 60,000 bottles of wine.  The chardonnay is moved quickly into barrels, while the Cabernet stays in tank for a month before moving into oak barrels.  The Barrel Room holds 4000 barrels and is extremely high tech with a structure built to be earthquake safe, so that the barrels rest on free-standing rubber slabs, none of which touch the walls or the ceilings.  This also provides the winemakers better access to the barrels without needing to use a lift to move them. Another clever feature in the Barrel Room is a “Demo Fermentation Barrel” of Chardonnay set up for exhibit that has one side of the barrel made of glass so you can actually observe the different stages of the fermentation process in action.    

At the conclusion of the Barrell and Tank room tour, we made our way towards the wine tasting room through the second floor Library, an elegant room that houses vertical vintages of Jordan Cabernets and various wine artifacts collected by the family over the years.  Our guide, Sean, slyly nudged one of the bookshelves, and just like a Bond movie, it opens into a private tasting room where beautifully prepared appetizers and wine flight awaits us.  The Jordan belief is that their soft, approachable wines pair so beautifully with food that they should be tasted with pairings.  True to this Modus Operandi, Jordan cares about the experience that its wines evoke and prefers to build a loyal following than to focus on sales.  Jordan does not have a wine club, nor do they host weddings or private events outside of those for industry wine buyers and friends, and they distribute 70-75% of their wines to restaurants nationwide. Its all about brand love, and spreading the word about the quality and food-friendliness of the wines.  On property, Jordan has 3 chefs who cook exclusively for tastings and private events and guests, and 3 guest rooms that can be used for visiting guests in the industry by invite only.  

Jordan Winery also doesn’t take walk-in visits - their priority is to provide the best possible personal experience to each guest, thus they limit visitors to the winery to under 50 per day (as compared to the 1500 estimated visitors per day to Mondavi Winery).   Be sure to call in advance to schedule your private tour and tasting and request a pairing - this is an experience you will remember.

2010 Chardonnay: $29.00
Served with a beautiful pairing of caviar, egg, seared ahi, fresh baked brioche.
Aromas of fresh green apples lead to an elegant palate framed by silky, creamy, lemon meringue, finished with a slight caramelization from the toasted French Oak.  

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon: $59.00
This 81% Cab, (rest is Cab Franc and Petit Verdot ) is a richly textured wine with luscious, black cherry fruit and a soft, velvety structure throughout. Hints of leather, anise and dried cherries  give it structure and complexity.  Drink now through 2016.

2008 Cabernet - $52.00
A smooth, silky wine that is full of extract, with elegant aromas of cherries and plums and a spectrum of red and black fruit flavors with a hint of spicy oak. It’s smooth, silky structure showcases the delicacy of the vintage. Enjoy now or cellar through 2020.


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