Meet Jordan’s New Director of Wine

by on October 1, 2012

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Greg Miller has joined the Jordan family as our Director of Wine–a new position replacing Ronald Du Preez, who has moved on to start his own winemaking consulting business.

You may have already read Greg’s 2012 harvest posts about sorting tables and the art of Chardonnay press cuts, but we wanted to take a moment to tell you about Greg’s fascinating road to Jordan Winery.

Born in 1977 on the east coast, Greg spent most of his “growing up” years in the Chicago area. An avid snowboarder, he followed his passion to the Rocky Mountains during high school, relocating with his father to pursue the sport competitively. After graduating from high school and enrolling in a local college, Greg realized that he had other academic and career interests that were not accessible from a small, alpine town.

Setting his competitive snowboarding aspirations aside, he returned to the Midwest in 1996 to pursue a degree in biology at University of Illinois at Chicago. When not in class, Greg worked in the Marine Mammal Department at the Shedd Aquarium and also waited tables to supplement his income. Once immersed in the fine dining restaurant experience, Greg became enamored with hospitality and wine service. During a weekend shift in 2000, a guest poured him a taste of a velvety 1997 California Cabernet Sauvignon, and the beguiling flavors redirected his course in life.

One taste was all it took, and Greg packed his bags for Las Vegas in 2001, enrolling in the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He majored in beverage management with an emphasis on wine, became president of the UNLV Wine Club, and traveled on scholarship to Europe to study regional wine and food. During college, Greg also began his studies with the Court of Master Sommeliers and worked in the wine department of a prestigious Las Vegas restaurant. While living in the desert, his athletic ambitions were sated by triathlon training.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in 2004, Greg moved to San Francisco—drawn to the city by the bay for its beauty, triathlon training network, culinary diversity and proximity to wine country. Evenings were spent working at San Francisco icon Moose’s and days dedicated to swimming, cycling and running. After four years of competing in full and half-iron distance triathlons and marathons, Greg was recruited as a technician by Endurance, an Olympic level training center serving the general public. Clients at Endurance quickly learned of his wine background, and it wasn’t long before he became their personal sommelier in addition to coaching duties. He finished 12th in the 2008 San Francisco Marathon, a result which led to the restructuring of his training program towards qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Greg continued to fuel his passion for wine by working weekends at Bradley Ogden’s The Lark Creek Inn but yearned for a deeper understanding of winemaking beyond the romantic stories spun by wine salesmen. He applied to the renowned viticulture and enology program at University of California at Davis and was accepted in 2009. The time commitment of intense university course work and elite marathon training were not a perfect pairing, and Greg said goodbye to his competitive dream; he has no regrets.

At UC-Davis, Greg gained scientific fundamentals in vineyard management, the vinification process, and the ability to accurately and precisely monitor both. When not studying or running, he served as intern and ambassador at Quintessa in Napa Valley, working in viticulture and hospitality for nearly four years.

As a result of his performance at UC-Davis, Greg won the prestigious Tastevin Scholarship in 2011, which was awarded by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin to fulfill an enology internship at the Maison Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy, France. During his four months in France, Greg worked alongside the Drouhin family throughout every step of winemaking, from determining grape maturity in the vineyards to performing daily sensory analysis. He claims that this experience truly enabled him to deepen his understanding of the Burgundian concept of terroir and how it is best expressed through wine. While in France, Greg was a judge for both the 88th session of Tastevinage and the 11th session of the Trophée-Beaujolais Nouveau—at which the 2011 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau won the Grande Médaille d’Or (gold medal); a proud moment for Greg, who helped select the blending components for that cuvée. Every Sunday while in Burgundy, Greg hopped the train north to Dijon only to run all the way back to Beaune through the villages and vineyards of the Côte de Nuits and northern villages of the Côte de Beaune. It was his first taste of having the best of both worlds.

“I am fortunate to have this opportunity to work alongside Rob Davis and his winemaking team,” Greg says. “Their combined academic backgrounds, professional experiences, and empirical knowledge deliver a winemaking approach that I find to be inspiring and completely in tune with what I have found to be important throughout my experiences. I am thrilled to now be contributing to their ongoing success.”

As Director of Wine, Greg has myriad roles at Jordan, from working in the vineyards, cellars and dining room to representing Jordan wines at events around the country. Greg’s well-rounded background in wine and hospitality is perfectly suited to this multi-faceted position, which allows him to be interwoven into many company departments, including winemaking, viticulture, hospitality, communications and sales. Greg currently resides in Sonoma with his wife, Lauren, and their two Rhodesian Ridgebacks. They are expecting their first child in February 2013.

Please join us in welcoming Greg to the Jordan family!


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