Jordan Winery Celebrates 40 Years in Sonoma

Each week I participate in a live Twitter discussion, basically just geeking out about wine. Specifically Sonoma (and Napa) wines. #SonomaChat is lead by the amazing Amy Lieberfarb (follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and IG to learn more), who oftentimes will share the roll of hostess/host with other bloggers, wineries, and wine pros. Last week I was lucky enough to be included as a #SonomaChat Ambassador while us wine tweeps celebrated Jordan Winery’s 40th Sonoma Birthday. We got to sip and savor a few selections live, while chatting it up with the winemaker Rob Davis himself. And of course I took all kinds of notes so I could share a brief follow up with all you cool wine kids who just couldn’t make it to the party.


Questions crafted by Amy Lieberfarb. Answers are edited based on Jordan Winery’s Twitter responses.

Q1: What was it like growing grapes in Sonoma County in 1976? Can you tell us about Jordan History?

A1: In the 1970s, only 20% of consumed wine was red. The Jordans, who established Jordan Winery and Vineyards in 1972, wanted to wanted to be the first to create a Bordeaux-style California Cab — something approachable straight out of the bottle, but could also age well.

Also, because the Jordans were self-proclaimed foodies, often traveling just to eat different foods, they wanted to produce wines that were innately food-friendly. It’s when they traveled to France that they fell in love with French wines and French restaurants, and this love was their vineyard and wine inspiration.

Q2: What has lead to the winery’s success today?

A2: We are fortunate to have same winemaker, Rob Davis, since the first vintage in 1976. That’s a rarity for a winery. We credit him with the consistent quality of our wines.

When it comes to the winery and wine-tasting experience, the Jordans wanted guests to enjoy their wines with the same level of service and attention to detail received at top restaurants. The “Jordan experience” is meant to be an homage to the traditions of elegant food, wine and hospitality enjoyed in the finest restaurants in France, Europe.

Q3: Jordan only produces two varietals. How did you arrive at Cabernet & Chardonnay in Healdsburg?

A3: We’ve chosen to be the best at just three things rather than spreading ourselves thin: Chardonnay, Cabernet and hospitality. Focusing on just these two wines allows us to make the best quality wine and sell off any fruit or juice that doesn’t meet standard.

Over the years we’ve made some changes to our Chardonnay’s oak regime. We use 100% new French oak (no used) but only 40% of the Chardonnay actually sees oak.

Our fining and filtering decisions are made vintage to vintage. No recipe. We tend to always filter but fining is completely based on taste-tests. We egg-white fined 2004-2007, but then not again until 2011-2013. It really all depends on the tannin and structure of wine before bottling.

Q4: What is one of the biggest challenges as a winemaker/grower in Sonoma?

A4: There are several modern difficulties: refining vineyard choices, finding new growers that farm to our standards, and Napa wineries offering high prices for Sonoma fruit. It’s a constant fight to stay on top. It’s a global competition.

The biggest challenges in the vineyard are fighting vine imbalance and protecting Chardonnay from sunburn. Chardonnay grapes are much more susceptible to sunburn than Cabernet. You can read Rob’s Four Secrets to Making an Elegant Chardonnay.

Q5: The Jordan Bordeaux-Style Cabernet and Chardonnay are atypical styles for two very common California varietals. How would you describe Jordan Winery’s wine-making style through the years?

A5: Since 1976, our philosophy has been to craft wines of balance and elegance that can stand with the best in France.Jordan wines have always been defined by balance, elegant and their ability to pair with food.

In our Chardonnays we use fine French oak and very little malolactic fermentation, which contributes to caramel vs. butter in Chardonnay. Our focus is to intensify the Chardonnay fruit and give beautiful balance in the palate.

When it comes to our Cabs, the focus of Jordan wines has always been more on fruit and acidity with tannin and alcohol being the subtle backdrop. We craft the wine with a focus on striking perfect balance between beautiful fruit, silky tannins and a lingering finish.

Q6: Tell us about the winery itself. What can one expect from a visit to Jordan?

A6: John Jordan, CEO since 2005, has expanded our culinary events: Sunset Supper, Meals Under Stars, Olive Harvest Lunch, vineyard hikes and more. And, just as the Jordan’s imagined their venue would be, we practice gracious hospitality while serving delicious food and wine pairings with a scenic view of the Sonoma Coast.

More Info: As a #SonomaChat Ambassador, I was sent two bottles of Jordan Winery wines to taste as we chatted. You can read my reviews of each by clicking below.

Jordan Vineyard & Winery Chardonnay 2014

Jordan Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

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