Jordan Vineyard & Winery Review
Address: 1474 Alexander Valley Rd. Healdsburg,California 95448.
Phone Number: 707-431-5250
Tasting Hours: By appt. Mon-Sat (also Sun mid-Apr through Mid-Nov)
Region: Sonoma County, Alexander Valley AVA, California
Reviewer: Tom Riley
Review Date: 4/5/2014
Reviewer: Tom Riley
If you set out to visit Jordan Vineyard and Winery expecting it to be like some of the other wineries you’ve been to, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Jordan doesn’t have many of the same things that most wineries offer.
Jordan doesn’t have crowds. They don’t have guests two and three deep at a long tasting bar. Nor do they have a high-pressured “hospitality” staff pushing you to join the wine club or have you walk out with wines you hadn’t planned to buy. If you’re looking for that sort of experience, then Jordan is not for you.
If, however, you are looking for a winery that offers an intimate, personal experience, in an elegant and beautiful environment, quiet and unrushed by the world outside its gates, then maybe Jordan is just what you’ve been looking for.
Nestled in the hills of the Alexander Valley, about five miles north of Healdsburg, Jordan sits on 1200 acres of pastures and woodlands, about two-thirds of which are still natural and undeveloped. Founded in 1972 by Tom and Sally Jordan, the winery produced its first vintage in 1976. Since then, they have been one of the shining lights of California wine and among America’s favorite labels. One of the many things that distinguishes Jordan from its competitors is that it produces only two labels. Year in, year out, the winery bottles only a cabernet sauvignon and a chardonnay. The Jordans were inspired to a life in wine by their travels in France, and they believed, rightly so, that America could produce wines to equal the ones they fell in love with overseas. The cabernet sauvignon echoes the great reds of Bordeaux, and the chardonnay resembles nothing so much as the fine whites of Burgundy.
The French inspiration at Jordan does not end with the wine. The winery’s main building, the chateau, looks as if it had been taken fresh from Bordeaux and replanted in the hills of Sonoma. Ivy covered and painted a warm, mustard color, it is both inviting and elegant, which are the hallmarks of Jordan hospitality. Another important inspiration is the role food plays in the enjoyment of wine. “My parents fell in love with fine food before they fell in love with wine,” John Jordan, CEO and second-generation vintner, explained to me the day I visited. “Because of that, we believe that food is an essential complement to our wines.” This is not just lip-service. When you visit Jordan, all three of the appointment-only tasting experiences they offer are sit-down affairs centered around the pairing of Jordan wines and fine food, prepared on-site by Executive Chef Todd Knoll and his acclaimed staff.
I’d been wanting to visit Jordan for a very long time, years in fact, and so when I made my reservation I decided to splurge. I signed up for the top experience, the Estate Tour and Tasting ($120), a three-hour educational excursion via Mercedes van all over the 1200 acres, with several stops and a few tastings along the way. This is a once-a-day event, weather permitting, and limited to parties of twelve or fewer. After a treat of gourmet scones, fresh fruit and juices in the Bacchus Courtyard, we set off. Once we pulled away from the chateau, we had departed France and were now, it seemed, somewhere in 19th century California, parts of the estate are that rustic and removed from the outside world.
Our first stop was near a red barn, where we met the miniature donkeys, Goose and Maverick. But our real purpose there was to get a look at the organic gardens that Jordan uses to source much of the produce and herbs for its gourmet kitchen. A few paces from the garden are 2000 solar panels, which do a good job of keeping the winery complex mostly off the grid. Sustainability is a word you hear quite often at Jordan, as they are justifiably proud of their operation having a carbon-neutral footprint.
From there, we headed to the shady grove called Seven Oaks, for a stand-up lake-side tasting of two chardonnay vintages and some fancy nibbles while we enjoyed watching herons and cormorants dive for their lunch in the bass- and trout-filled lake. After a short stroll through a hillside vineyard where we learned about a few of Jordan’s eco-friendly viticultural practices, we headed up to Vista Point to enjoy a pair of their popular and well regarded cabernet sauvignons. Vista Point, where the winery will hold Sunset Dinners this summer and fall, sports a large stone and beam pavilion, with sliding glass walls. While sipping Jordan cab and enjoying more gourmet snacks around an impressive dining table, guests take in views of three Sonoma AVAs (American Viticultural Areas): Alexander Valley, Russian River, and Dry Creek Valley.
All good things must come to an end, so it was time to roll back to the chateau and my reluctant return to civilization. Getting so eager over the years for my Jordan visit was a risk, as so few things can live up to hype and imagination. Happily, as I found out, there are very few places like Jordan.