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Introducing the Jordan Melchior Poster Art Contest Winner & Finalists

We’re excited to announce the winner in our first-annual Jordan Melchior poster art contest. We challenged artists to make a work of art that showed the grand scale of this rare, 18-liter bottle of wine with an art nouveau vibe that celebrates France—the inspiration for Jordan.

After reviewing a few dozen entries, we selected the winner: Jessie Swiech of Illinois, who created a very flowy and dramatic illustration of a ballerina touching the top of a giant Jordan wine bottle. This artwork will grace the limited-edition poster for the 2014 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in 18-liter Melchior. (A Melchior is the equivalent of 24 750mL bottles and weighs about 60 pounds when full.) Posters will be distributed at restaurants that sell the Jordan Melchior. Learn more about the art contest judging criteria on our call for entries blog post.

According to the artist, this winning poster design was inspired by the Art Nouveau artist, Alphonse Mucha, as well as the vineyard and wines of Jordan Winery. The female figure, clothed in the reds and purples of wine grapes and their vintages, represents the vineyard itself. The golden embellishments on her dress evoke new, curling grape shoots. With grapes and leaves in her auburn hair, she simultaneously rises from the vines which laid the foundation of Jordan Winery, and unveils the bottle of the new vintage. This is a nod to the replanting and revitalization of the estate vineyards. The hand lettering and embellishments in the Art Nouveau style evoke the European tradition and class so highly valued by the vintners at Jordan. The leaves in delicate yellow-greens, and fiery red-golds bring to mind both the beginning of the growing season and the harvest.

Jessie Swiech worked as an intern at Sunset Lake Vineyards and Winery in Carlock, Illinois. “I understand the love, care, blood, sweat–LOTS of sweat!–and tears that go into winemaking,” she says. “This poster represents the joy and excitement of unveiling the result of years of work, as well as the beauty of the vines, wines, and grapes themselves.”

The top five finalists in order of points are: Jessie Swiech, Sierra Fry, Chakori Prasad, Tiffany Olson and Cotey Gallagher.

View our photo gallery to see this year’s top five art contest entries. Sign up for our mailing list to learn more about Jordan Melchior offers and events.

John Jordan Receives Inaugural Firefighter of the Year Award

The Northern Sonoma County Firefighters recently presented John Jordan with its Honorary Firefighter of the Year award for 2018. This is an inaugural award created by Wine Country to the Rescue, a non-profit organization made up of the Healdsburg, Geyserville, Cloverdale and Knights Valley firefighters, who regularly work together to protect northern Sonoma County and share resources when it comes to education and equipment.

Four firefighters came to the winery on July 25 and gave John a commemorative fireman’s axe and plaque. Through the John Jordan Foundation, John has funded two major initiatives for local firefighters, including a two-year commitment to help them buy a special vehicle that carries firemen’s air packs and a compressor, so they can refill easily in the field. This year, the John Jordan Foundation helped the group purchase pre-fire attack maps. These maps are critical for training firefighters from outside the area on terrain, typography and landmarks.

fire truck at jordan winery

“We wanted to create a way to recognize our donors,” said Joe Stewart, captain of Geyserville Fire. “John has been our most generous donor, and we thought it would only be appropriate to make him the first honorary firefighter.”

Since the October 2017 wildfires, the John Jordan Foundation has worked to help the community both rebuild and maintain existing non-profit services vital to communities in the wake of a disaster. The foundation made an initial investment of $25,000 to the new Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation (SCGGF) Wildfire Relief Fund, assisting agriculture workers who lost their homes in the fires. The foundation is also helping build the new Santa Rosa Community Health Vista Campus, which was lost in the fires in Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood and will reopen in 2019. (JJF also funded services at Santa Rosa Community Health’s new Dutton campus, which is serving the Vista campus patients during the rebuild.) Other charities include United Way’s Earn it, Keep it, Save it program, which provides free tax preparation service as a tool to help Bay Area residents become financially stable, and CTE (Career Technical Education) Foundation, which is focusing on increasing the construction and engineering career pathways to create a bigger work force for the rebuild effort. John and foundation director Lisa Wittke Schaffner also funded local schools to help meet the growing mental health challenges for students after the tragedy.

John Jordan accepting firefighter award
John Jordan accepting the Honorary Firefighter of the Year Award.

A significant portion of the proceeds from Jordan Winery fund the John Jordan Foundation, which supports programs that help disadvantaged youth and adults access the tools they need to excel personally and professionally.

This Year’s Jordan Winery Harvest Lunch Menus

The countdown to grape harvest season has begun in Sonoma County, which means it’s time for Jordan Winery Harvest Lunches in Healdsburg. This communal feast for Jordan Estate Rewards members, our staff and grape growers celebrates the harvest season with delicious, garden-driven dishes by our winery chef, Todd Knoll. This year’s menu was unveiled today.

Offered September 10-October 5 (Monday through Friday), savor a delectable assortment of dishes from the Jordan garden, as well as an entrée and dessert–all served with multiple Jordan wines. If you’d like to experience Harvest Lunch at Jordan, all you need to do is become a Silver member of our loyalty program. Silver, Gold and Platinum members may request a seat at the table on our website.

2018 Jordan Harvest Lunches Menus

Monday, September 10
Traditional Pork Tamales
Rice, Beans, Salsa, Sour Cream
Cabbage Salad with Cilantro Heirloom Tomatoes
Apple, Cinnamon and Coconut Salad

Tuesday, September 11
Roasted New York Strip
Summer Squash, Farro, Roasted Shallots, Tarragon Vinaigrette
Garden Greens with Heirloom Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries

Wednesday, September 12
Grilled Chicken Piccata
Wild Rice, Broccolini
Heirloom Tomatoes with Garden Basil and Burrata
Tiramisu

Thursday, September 13
Grilled Pork Chops
Roasted Apples, New Potatoes, Estate Haricots Verts
Classic Wedge Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes
Garden Fig Bread Pudding with Crème Anglaise

Friday, September 15
Glazed Salmon
Freekeh, Grilled Garden Vegetables
Heirloom Tomatoes with Scallions and Miso Vinaigrette
Strawberry Shortcake with Mascarpone

Monday, September 17
Jordan Meatloaf
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Wild Mushroom Gravy
Estate Haricots Verts and Fig Salad, Garden Greens with Sherry Vinaigrette
Famous Jordan Chocolate Mousse with Estate Berries

Tuesday, September 18
Roasted Pork Loin
Freekeh, Ratatouille
Panzanella with Heirloom Tomatoes
Jordan Olive Oil and Lemon Cake with Whipped Crème Fraiche

Wednesday, September 19
Kobe Burger Bar
Corn on the Cob, Baked Beans, French Fries, Cole Slaw
Kozlowski Gravenstein Apple Pie
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, September 20
Korean Short Ribs
Tamki Sushi Rice and Jordan Kimchee
Shiitake and Snow Pea Salad in a Sesame Vinaigrette
Honey Glazed Estate Figs and Estate Melons
Coconut Layer Cake

Friday, September 21
Mahi Mahi Vera Cruz
Black Quinoa, Peas and Estate Heirloom Tomatoes
Romaine, Kale and Avocado Caesar Salad
Arroz Con Leche with Spiced Mango

Monday, September 24
Hawaiian Kalua Pork and Cabbage
Sticky Rice, Tropical Fruit Salsa
Coconut Cream Pie

Tuesday, September 25
Pepper Crusted Ribeye Beef
Estate Braising Greens, Grilled Asparagus,
Crème Fraiche Mashed Potatoes with Braised Shallot Jus
Kozlowski Triple Berry Pie

Wednesday, September 26
Chicken Souvlaki
Tzatziki, Traditional Greek Salad
Grilled Vegetables from Our Garden
Greek Yogurt with Fig, Honey and Pistachio

Thursday, September 27
Pancetta Crusted Pork Loin
Anson Mills Polenta, Porcini Gravy
Lemon Tarts with Jordan Berries

Friday, September 28
Mexican Prawn Cocktail
 Black Beans and Rice
Grilled Corn with Lime and Cilantro
Tres Leches Cake

October 1-5
Finale week features an entrée, many surprises from our garden and dessert

Executive Chef, Todd Knoll

*menus are subject to change

GoPro Video: Watch Bottling Wine From a New Point of View at Jordan

Bottling wine might look like one of the easiest parts of winemaking—machines are doing much of the work, after all—but the ease of muscle during bottling season is replaced with a barrel full of anxiety because it truly is the most critical winemaking decision we make after when to harvest the grapes, and it requires years and years of expertise to perfect the complexities of placing a delicate wine into its aging vessel.

Three reasons why bottling wine is serious business:

  1. Bottling is the last step in the winemaking process to ensure that the wine tastes exactly how we want
  2. Bottling wine with high-tech equipment reduces the amount of oxygen that could get into the bottle during bottling (oxygen exposure would cause the wine to age prematurely)
  3. Bottling wine with the best equipment is more gentle on the wine, allowing them to avoid significant “bottle shock” and to be more expressive in aroma and flavor sooner (after six months to a year)

This creative, snappy GoPro video outlines the journey a wine bottle takes, from being filled with Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon to being corked, labeled and boxed. The most important steps for bottling wine occur in a sterile cabin, made of glass, which has the same microbial protection as a hospital emergency room. You’ll see this glass cabin throughout the video. Enjoy this 1:49 ride at a viewpoint you likely haven’t seen before – from a wine bottle’s point of view. (This GoPro video was created by Thomas Remiyac on our cellar team, who entered this video into our first employee video contest last year.)

There are several critical steps in the winemaking process to ensure the highest quality and integrity when bottling wine, both before and during the filling of wine bottles:

Before Wine Bottling

  • Every December, glass bottles are ordered. All 750ml bottles for Jordan wines are made in California; large-format bottles are made in France and Italy, the countries with the most experience and volume.
  • Every February, wine corks are ordered from Portugal and undergo a rigorous quality control process as noted in our blog about how wine corks are made and tested.
  • In early spring, the winemaking team tastes the new vintage and decides when it should come out of barrel and when the master blending before bottling should occur. During the master blending session, we decide if the Jordan Cabernet should be egg-white fined and if any lots should be declassified. Then, only the top lots go into the master blend that we bottle.
  • Every May, cork quality testing continues once the wine corks arrive into California from Portugal. See our blog post, 10 Fun Facts about Jordan Wine Corks.
  • More often than not, we egg-white fine Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. That’s the last step before bottling wine for our singular red. Egg whites help soften the tannins and polish the finished wine. Learn more about egg-white fining in this video blog.
  • For a month leading up to the summer bottling season, we train staff, sterilize our state-of-the-art bottling line (watch a time-lapse video of its construction), run tests and make sure that all the equipment is in perfect working order before we begin bottling wine.

During Wine Bottling

  • Quality control is a big part of bottling wine throughout the process, even though machines are helping us do the heavy lifting. It takes 10 people working nine hours per day for six weeks to bottle each vintage of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon (Jordan Chardonnay takes nine days). During bottling, we run hourly tests on wine bottles to test corker vacuum, oxygen pick-up, fill levels, fill volume and diameter of the bottle necks (for proper cork insertion).
  • Empty bottles are loaded onto the line by hand and shake their way into the bottle blower, where they are turned upside down. The bottle blower simply blows air into the inverted bottle to make sure that cardboard or lint from the wine case didn’t get inside.
  • Empty bottles move into the filler to receive wine in a two-step process. First, they receive a spurge of nitrogen, which removes any oxygen from the bottle that could prematurely age the wine. Then the bottles are individually raised to the filler. By using a state-of-the-art wine bottle filler, the wine bottle fill levels (known as ullage) are highly consistent, which also helps avoid any low or high fills that could also lead to premature aging of the wine.
  • Filled bottles turn through a six-headed corker, which can complete/cork six bottles at one time. The corker emits a small amount of nitrogen into the head space before pulling a vacuum and then inserting the cork. This process ensures, again, that no oxygen gets into contact with the wine. We have three employees watching the critical filling, corking and packaging portion of the line, making sure that the five optical cameras in our high-tech line are doing their precise jobs and refilling the line with supplies.
  • Tin capsules are placed on the bottle in a two-part process. The capsules are placed gently on the bottle neck and then they go into a spinner, which tightens the capsule into place.
  • Bottles move into the labeler portion of the line, where self-adhesive wine labels are placed on the bottle and then brushed around to adhere perfectly into place. Thomas, who made the above bottling wine video, spends most of bottling season watching over the labeling part of the machine, making sure that the labels are applied seamlessly and perfectly without stopping the line’s progress.
  • Wine bottles then leave the sterile cabin and pass a rejection table, which is fitted with a camera that checks the fill level, cork integrity, capsule integrity and label placement. Bottles that don’t meet our standards are rejected and pushed onto a small conveyor belt.
  • Approved bottles move into the case packer section of the line, which has soft-catch technology—guiding the bottles into the box gently. Ivan X watches over this process, making sure that the cases and bottles are perfect.
  • Full 12-bottle cases are closed, flipped over and stacked with the neck down so that all the wines in the cases are in contact with the cork; employees place these cases on pallets to age for two full years before release for cabernet sauvignon (about six months for chardonnay).

 

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2016 Vintage Report: What Made 2016 Such a Great Year for Chardonnay?

After a more challenging vintage in 2015, Mother Nature was very kind to the grapes throughout the 2016 growing season in Sonoma County, allowing us to make phenomenal wines from the 41st harvest at Jordan Winery. There were six key factors that influenced the quality of the wines from 2016, which are included below based on our experiences with Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay. The opportunity to work with such delicately spiced fruit with such lively acidity was especially fun, offering so many aromas and flavors to employ on our vintage canvas.

Watch my Facebook Live video for the full 2016 Jordan vintage report.

Jordan Russian River Valley chardonnay vineyard drone photo
A chardonnay grower vineyard on the east side of the Russian River.

2016 was a Phenomenal Growing Season Overall for Russian River Chardonnay

Vineyards throughout the world tend to favor what is described as a Mediterranean climate–an arid growing season lacking in extreme heat and cold, and 2016 was one of our more moderate growing seasons of the past 10 years—ample rain in winter, no frost in spring, no heat spikes in summer and no rain at harvest. The rainy winter restored the water table and reservoirs, which had been depleted by the historic drought. Bud break occurred early yet again, thanks to a warm spell in February, but no frost damage or serious disruption to grapevine flowering occurred due to the mild spring. Moderate weather prevailed throughout June and July without unwanted heat spikes. Moderate growing seasons like 2016 lead to phenomenal fruit flavors and thus excellent wines.

vineyard worker thinning grape clusters, Jordan Winery
Jordan’s Jose Saldana thins leaves and clusters of chardonnay grapes during August of 2016 to aid ripening.

2016 was a Stress-Free Vintage for Grapes and Growers Alike

There was a lack of stress for the grapes and for the growers in 2016, and for that, we were very grateful. Due to the early bud break, we took additional measures to avoid frost damage by mowing flowering cover crops earlier than normal, ensuring that the cold air wouldn’t get trapped in the vineyard rows of actively growing vines. But the threat of frost, which passed without incident, was the only real nail biter of the growing season. Moderate weather in summer made 2016 a more relaxing vintage for farmers, due to the lack of extreme weather events. As the uniform crop began to grow in summer, we thinned leaves from the eastern morning-sun side of the grapevines to encourage ripening, while the leaves covering the fruiting zone were left untouched on the western afternoon-sun side to prevent sunburn. During the unusually cool August, mildew pressures were high, but our vineyard teams mitigated any threats with organic fungicide treatments. Additional leaves were removed in August to open up the canopy and allow air movement to the clusters—a practice to prevent bunch rot, a common ailment for the tightly clustered chardonnay grapes.

Russian river valley chardonnay bud break, 2016 vintage grapevine
Uniformity was key during the bud break period of the 2016 growing season in Russian River Valley.

Grapevines Grew Uniformly in 2016

Jordan Chardonnay’s harmony is achieved by uniformity of growth in the vineyard, and all the leaves burst at the same time during spring bud break and continued to grow in concert through the May flowering of the grapes and right into summer fruit set. When growth of the plant is uniform through the growing season, the grapes ripen together and their flavors and aromas are both more consistent and more intense.

Russian River chardonnay grapes on grapevine, Jordan Winery
The 2016 Chardonnay crop was typical in size and enjoyed a slow, even ripening period, thanks to the August cold front.

The 2016 Vintage Crop was Average in Size

Fruit set occurred as usual in June 2016, revealing an average-sized crop for all of our Russian River chardonnay growers—down only about 15% of a typical vintage. Great vintages go hand-in-hand with a balanced vine–when grapevines carry too much or too little fruit, they struggle to achieve a harmony and balance of fruit, acidity and sugar. It is very uncommon to have a bumper crop with concentrated, perfect flavors and aromas–the 2012 vintage being the exception to the rule. The normal crop size for chardonnay growers allowed the grapevines to mature their clusters evenly throughout the moderate summer. In 2016, the farming practice of veraison thinning, sacrificing about 10% of the overall clusters, was employed to ensure that the fruit on the vine continued to ripen evenly during the unseasonably cool weather that proceeded harvest.

chardonnay grapes hanging on the vine in russian river valley
Uniform chardonnay grape clusters awaiting the typical hot August temperatures.

Cool Weather in August 2016 Intensified Fruit Flavors

A massive cooling trend hung over Sonoma County vineyards during the month of August in 2016, with foggy mornings that lingered into the afternoon and temperatures 10 degrees below average. The cool weather allowed our Chardonnay grapes to continue slowly ripening without the threat of excessive heat, which can sunburn their delicate skins. The freshness of fruit and the vibrant acidity in our Chardonnay are also better retained in the clusters when peak temperatures in the summer are less severe. Top grape growing regions also enjoy what are called diurnal temperature variations–large swings in temperature from the coolest point in the night to the highest point in the day. . In the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County where the best chardonnay grapes are grown, summer temperatures can swing from 50 degrees at night to the mid-80s or low-90s on a typical day. This prolonged, final, “cool” stretch for the grapes helps the vines to develop physiological ripeness for the fruit rather than just simple sugar accumulation. Temperatures in August of 2016 ranged from the upper 40s at night to the upper 70s and low 80s during the day, which kept the chardonnay grapes’ acidity very high and bright while the aromas and flavors grew more concentrated.

harvest grapes, russian river valley chardonnay grapes, 2016 vintage
The last gondola of Russian River Valley chardonnay grapes to be harvested in 2016 just after sunrise.

Glorious, Sunny Days During the 2016 Harvest

Near-perfect weather conditions prevailed throughout the month of September–cool mornings and warm, sunny afternoons without excessive heat–allowing us to pick Jordan’s Russian River Valley Chardonnay grapes in the coldest hours of the night to preserve their bright acidity, vibrant aromas and crisp fruit flavors. In 2016, harvest began on September 1 with Russian River Valley Chardonnay—all fruit handpicked in the coolness of the night and early morning hours before sunrise. Picking continued under ideal weather through September 22, with sugar levels averaging 23.4 Brix. Fruit arrived at the crushpad very pristine without sunburn and with phenomenal varietal character. What I look for in a great harvest is intensity of fruit flavors, and when we transferred the 2016 fruit from the grower’s bins to our hopper, our senses were overwhelmed with gorgeous aromas. Joy turned to pure elation. Compared to vintages like 2012 where the tons harvested exceeded our estimates, 2016 was right on par. Both 2016 Jordan wines are a fitting way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our first vintage, the 1976 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.

What is Grape Cluster Counting & Why It Matters to Winemakers

Even though school is out during summer, it’s math time in the vineyards.

June and July are the months where grape cluster counting takes place. Grape cluster counting literally means walking through vineyard rows counting grapes to determine if the year’s harvest will be small, average, large or somewhere in between.

hand holding green grapes, Jordan Winery
Elena Robledo counts a cabernet sauvignon grape cluster to determine crop size for the 2018 vintage.

How Grape Cluster Counting Helps Winemakers

Elena Robledo, whose father was our first employee at Jordan back in 1973, is the cluster counting guru at Jordan. She walks every vineyard, with clipboard in hand, stopping at every tenth grapevine in a row and counting each cluster of grapes on that vine. Once she reaches the end of that vineyard row, she moves ten rows farther and begins counting again. Counting the clusters on every tenth grapevine in a row gives the winemakers a sample of statistical significance to estimate the potential crop size for the vintage’s harvest. During this time, Rob Davis, our winemaker, also visits every vineyard and examines the size of the clusters. If the grapes are smaller than usual or the clusters are loose, the weight of grapes could be below average, which also affects how much juice can be pressed from the fruit once it arrives at the winery during harvest. On the flip side, very big clusters could mean much more juice inside the grapes, so knowing the exact weight of the clusters is just as important to a winemaker as knowing how many bunches are hanging on each grapevine.

Jordan cabernet grape cluster counting in a vineyard
Elena Robledo counting clusters at a cabernet sauvignon vineyard in Geyserville.

After cluster counting, if the crop size is above average or the grapes are not growing uniformly (a balanced vine is the key to a balance wine), our winemaker will make the decision to sacrifice some grapes, dropping fruit to the ground is a quality winegrowing practice called veraison thinning. Once the estimated crop size is confirmed, winemakers have the ballpark numbers needed to plan out tank space for fermentations, order barrels and determine staffing for harvest.

Because Jordan sources grapes from five vineyards in Russian River Valley for Jordan Chardonnay and about a dozen in Alexander Valley for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, it takes Elena a few weeks to finish grape cluster counting. While the winemakers and cellar crew (including Elena’s son, Danny,) are busy with bottling during late June and early July, Elena is content to spend her days enjoying the cool mornings of Northern Sonoma County crunching numbers.

We think she has a pretty awesome office this time of year.

Meet Spencer Jensen: Jordan Winery’s New Western Regional Sales Director

Our wine family is growing this summer. We’d like to introduce you to Spencer Jensen, who recently joined our sales team. Spencer developed a passion for storytelling and authenticity in the world of wine and spirits early in his career during his travels to Cognac, Scotland and California. After 10 years of selling wine and spirits in the Midwest, he moved to California in June 2018 to become the Western Regional Sales Director for Jordan Vineyard & Winery.

An Illinois native, Spencer will be responsible for distributor management, Tastevin tablet wine list integration, and restaurant and retail sales initiatives in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii and Arizona. He’ll also host wine dinners and pour at select events in the West. He most recently spent 10 years working at Southern Wine & Spirits, where he served in a variety of positions including portfolio manager for Moet Hennessy, key account manager for Svedka, off-premise portfolio manager for Pernod Ricard and on-premise portfolio manager for Bacardi.

“Spencer’s experience with luxury wines and natural talent for forming strong relationships make him a perfect fit for the Jordan team,” says Brad Butcher, national sales director at Jordan Vineyard & Winery. “We look forward to seeing his skills continue to grow the quality of distribution in the West.”

Spencer grew up in Lockport, Illinois, and attended the University of Illinois in Champaign. During his tenure as an Illinois, he joined the varsity football team as a walk-on and became a four-year wide receiver and punt returner. After graduating with a degree in applied health sciences in 2007, he worked in youth sports before transitioning into the food and beverage industry. Spencer learned most of what he knows about wine from his time at Southern, and says his interest in wine grew simply from the romance of sharing a bottle in great company.

He resides in Hermosa Beach, California, and looks forward to sharing Jordan wines with our fans in the Western United States.

 

Jordan Uncorked Video #15: 1968 Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve Georges De Latour Cabernet Sauvignon

Many years ago, Mrs. Jordan shared the story of her “a-ha moment” with a bottle of Napa Valley cabernet that inspired her and Tom Jordan to plant a vineyard and found Jordan Winery. The wine was a 1966 Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve Georges De Latour Cabernet Sauvignon. They quickly sought out André Tchelistcheff, the BV winemaker, and convinced him to help them realize their winemaking dream in neighboring Sonoma County. (There’s a great background story on the BV Private Reserve Cabernet in Decanter.)

Though we don’t have any bottles of the 1966 in our cellar, we do have a few prized bottles of the 1968 vintage, so in honor of the 50th anniversary of this legendary Napa Valley red wine, we decided to open a bottle in this episode of our monthly YouTube series, Jordan Uncorked. The wine surprised them in more ways than one.

Comment below with your pick for which wine these winemakers should open next for a chance to be featured.

Tune in every month for “Jordan Uncorked” on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

 

Sips for Smiles: John Jordan Foundation Charity Spotlight on Dental Health

Many of us dread going to the dentist, especially when we know that visit will involve shots and chisels. A few years ago, I was sitting in my dentist’s chair, cringing at the whine of the drill and thinking to myself: This must be the worst thing in the world. On my way home from the appointment, it hit me that not having the opportunity to have quality dental care is truly one of the worst things in the world. Few ailments are more painful than unhealthy gums or teeth. The emotional impact of oral health issues can’t be overlooked either. Numerous studies have linked a great smile to a person’s career advancement. Smiling boosts self-esteem and self-confidence. The road to success is often paved in smiles.

But, we can’t forget that the most important things in life have nothing to do with business. Smiling is central to how we communicate in every aspect of our lives with the people who matter to us most. Those smiles are what makes life meaningful and add a layer of richness to our days—not unlike a glass of wine. That is why the John Jordan Foundation has taken on pediatric dentistry as one of our causes. A significant portion of the proceeds from Jordan Winery fund the foundation, which works to fight the negative effects of poverty.

Our first dental care project was a two-year commitment of $250,000 to build Santa Rosa Community Health’s (SRCH) first pediatric dental wing. SRCH is a network of ten health centers in Sonoma County that provide medical, dental and mental health care to families with inadequate or no insurance. Located at SRCH’s first Dental Campus in Santa Rosa, the pediatric dental wing was completed in 2013. There are five dentists, including one pediatric specialist, who provide full restorative and diagnostic services to an average of 2,100 children per year, from toddlers to teenagers.

“This project filled a critical need,” says Naomi Fuchs, chief executive officer of SRCH. “Our Dental Campus has already changed the lives of thousands of low-income children and families, many of whom have never seen a dentist before. Preventing and treating dental decay is critical to giving every person the opportunity for a full and healthy life.”

So, next time you uncork a bottle of Jordan, know that we make wine to bring our customers pleasure, but it warms our hearts equally as much to see the impact winery revenue can have on impoverished families. That’s another reason to smile while enjoying our wine.

Learn more about the John Jordan Foundation on our website.

Jordan Uncorked Video Episode 14: When to Drink 2012 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon in Magnum

Ever wondered if a magnum of wine tastes different than a standard bottle? In this episode of Jordan Uncorked, winemakers Maggie Kruse and John Duckett taste the 2012 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon in magnum. 2012 was truly a phenomenal growing season, yielding a harvest that was both stunning in quality and quantity. The grapes were just gorgeous. This 2012 magnum just released in May, and the winery staff has been waiting to taste this wine for six years.

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.

Tune in every month for “Jordan Uncorked” on our YouTube channel or Facebook page too.

Jordan Wine Bottle Poster Contest: Bring the Le Tour de Melchior to Life

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon in 2016, Jordan Winery produced 18-liter Melchior wine bottles for the first time. This month, we are launching our first poster contest in 2018, seeking an artist to help create artwork for a limited-edition poster that will commemorate the next release of this rare wine from the 2014 vintage.

The Jordan Melchior debuts annually with a special offering of the newest vintage of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. Beautifully etched, numbered and painted by hand, only eight of these 18-liter wine bottles are produced for sale each year. We hope their impressive size and past Le Tour de Melchior poster artwork inspires exciting poster contest entries in 2018. The winning art submission will be printed and featured at each restaurant event around the country, as well as at the winery’s annual Christmas at Jordan event.

2018 Poster Contest Submission Information:

Submissions should incorporate the Melchior wine bottle and portray the scale of the bottle. View images of the 750mL bottle versus the 18L bottle. Digitally designed artwork is requested; unfortunately original paintings cannot be accepted. As a French-inspired wine brand, submissions should also be more art nouveau in style. Submit an electronic copy of your contest submission by July 13, 2018, to be considered for this event. Please also submit an abstract that concisely describes your work in 100-200 words in length.

All Jordan wine poster contest entrants must 21 years of age or older.

Review the guidelines for the competition. Entries that do not follow the guidelines may be disqualified from the competition.

Poster Contest 2018, Jordan Wine Bottle Artwork
The 2017 Jordan Le Tour de Melchior commemorative poster art.

Design Guidelines:

  • Art is to be the original work of the entrant; lettering may be original or come from any kind of art service.
  • The artwork must be in a finished electronic file format (.ai, .tiff or .eps) and at least 300 dpi.
  • The printed poster will include the following information:
    Le Tour de Melchior
    2014 vintage (2014 portrayed on the bottle suffices)
    Jordan logo (high-resolution version)
  • Poster size is 24 x 36 inches
  • Artists retain all rights to the design with the winner signing a written agreement granting exclusivity of the design to Jordan Vineyard & Winery.
  • The second through fourth runners-up may be contacted in the future for permission to use their designs in social media promotions with compensation.
  • The second through fourth runners-up will be notified if their design has been selected as a finalist for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 Le Tour de Melchior poster designs. If selected, each artist will receive $1,000 during the calendar year the poster is produced.

Submission Instructions:

Register for the art contest and submit your poster design. Submissions will be accepted via Google Form through July 13, 2018, 11:59 p.m. PST. For questions about your submission, please contact Nicole at nwells (at) jordanwinery (dot) com.

Judging:

Wine Posters, Jordan Winery 18 Liter Bottle Poster Contest 2018
Poster artwork from the inaugural Jordan 18 Liter Melchior wine bottle release in 2016.

Judging takes place July 25-27, 2018, and will be conducted by a selected panel of employees from Jordan Vineyard & Winery. The art contest winner will be announced August 9, 2018, via the email provided. Submissions will be prepared and will be judged on a 100-point scale as follows:

  • Creativity (50 points)
  • Composition (25 points)
  • Artistic Quality (25 points)

Timeline:

  • July 13, 2018 – Poster art submission deadline
  • July 25-27, 2018 – Posters judged by selected panel
  • August 9, 2018 – Announcement of winner

Prize:

The first place winner receives a $1,000 cash prize.
The second through fourth runners-up will receive a gift.

Good luck to all the artists. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

 

poster art contests 2018 flyer

A Fresh Start: Why Jordan Winery is Replanting all Estate Vineyards

Guests who visit Jordan Winery expect to see a grand French chateau, towering wine barrels and decanters being filled with cabernet sauvignon. But, for the next seven years, we’ll also be giving them a different kind of show–a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most dramatic and essential duties that takes place in the wine business: planting a vineyard. Nearly two dozen vineyard blocks totaling about 120 acres of grapevines are being removed and their soil replenished before new vines can be replanted. This article shares the background story of why Jordan is replanting all of its vines now.

Grapegrowing in the past

When Tom and Sally Jordan purchased the piece of Sonoma wine country land that would become their winery and home in the early 1970s, very little was known about growing cabernet sauvignon grapevines in Alexander Valley. They yearned to establish a Bordeaux-style wine estate, yet had no local blueprint when planting their vines in a nearby valley. Neither did their neighbors. White grapes like gewurztraminer and muscat could be found growing in the warm, inland benchlands. Back then, so much was trial and error. The Jordans, like the Youngs, Munselles, Millers and other local pioneers, believed in cabernet sauvignon’s future in the region, and planted 225 acres of Bordeaux’s flagship red and its favorite blending brethren, merlot.

The inaugural 1976 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was released in 1980, made from a combination of estate and grower grapes. Cabernet sauvignon grapes were picked at lower sugar levels when they still had vegetal flavors like green beans and green peppers. We considered these the characteristics of classic California cabernet.

Grape phylloxera strikes

Over the next two decades, lessons about grapevine farming, soils and climate were learned. Just as Jordan Winemaker Rob Davis and his vineyard manager were hitting their stride in the mid-1990s, Jordan’s cabernet sauvignon and merlot vineyards on the Alexander Valley floor began to struggle to ripen their fruit. Phylloxera, a root-damaging louse had attacked the vines, and replanting was the only recourse. It was a devastating diagnosis for an estate winery that relied entirely on its own vineyards for grapes. Because 20-25 years is about the average lifespan of a grapevine, the painful event was seen as a natural part of wine agriculture—and an opportunity to both plant and plan smarter.

Aerial view of the original Jordan Winery valley floor vineyards
Aerial view of the original Jordan Winery valley floor vineyards in the middle foreground, with the Jordan Estate hills in the background.

Davis immediately began sourcing grapes from nearby farmers on the other side of Alexander Valley’s riverbank, so Jordan would have enough fruit to make wine. From 1996 to 1999, grapevines were planted on the hillsides behind the Jordan Winery Chateau for the first time, taking advantage of new rootstocks, clonal selections and trellis systems. In addition to cabernet sauvignon and merlot, the two grapes found in Jordan’s singular red wine, petit verdot and cabernet franc were added to experiment with the Bordeaux-inspired blend. In their youngest years, these precocious vines helped produce classic wines, such as the 1999 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, and held great promise for the future of grapegrowing at Jordan Estate.

Jordan Estate Petit Verdot Bud Break
Young Jordan Estate petit verdot grapevines in spring.

New leaders, new energy

Enter Brent Young, who joined Jordan as a harvest intern in 2005—the year John Jordan took the reins and began to revitalize the business literally from the ground up. Armed with a viticulture degree and a drive to always improve, Young soon moved into a full-time role as viticulturist at Jordan and began to tackle a complex problem below the surface of the estate vineyards: These young grapevines were already dropping in performance after just 5-10 years of life.

Jordan Winery Ranch Manager Brent Young in the vineyard
Brent Young began as a viticulturist and was soon promoted to ranch manager, overseeing all farming operations at Jordan Estate.

John Jordan agreed to do whatever it took to find the cause and revive the plants. Soil-mapping and GPS (Global Positioning System) technology, tools that didn’t exist when Jordan planted its valley or hillside vineyards, were utilized to better understand the soil chemistry and water-holding capacity. An exhaustive, three-year study revealed a patchwork of different soils across the estate, though each vineyard block had been farmed uniformly. Many vineyard blocks were also planted on a hard clay soil called serpentine, which can make it challenging for grapevines to spread their deep roots.

Jordan Winery iPad in the Vineyard for Soil Mapping
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) maps are used to understand the levels of photosynthetic activity in the grapevines at Jordan.

Young began to implement new farming strategies across the estate, tailored to each soil type, from irrigation and leafing changes to grafting underperforming cabernet vines to other blending varietals, such as malbec and petit verdot. In the meantime, John Jordan green-lighted Davis’s desire to increase the amount of grapes purchased from nearby, top-notch growers, to improve wine quality and consistency. “The importance of soil, soil and soil was drummed into me by my mentor, Andre Tchelistcheff,” Davis says. “Without great soil, we can’t produce great wines. The soils at the Jordan Estate are high in magnesium and low in drainability, and we’ve experienced reduced vine growth and crop development as a result.”

In 2012, the team collectively decided to sell Jordan’s original valley floor vineyard to focus totally on working with grower vineyards and on farming the hillside grapevines at Jordan Estate.

“The goal is to make every vintage better than the last,” Jordan says. “We had to say goodbye to a vineyard that could no longer supply us with the quality of grapes we demand.”

Under Young’s direction, Jordan Estate petit verdot grapevines were healthier and more balanced in flavor than ever before. Experiments in certain cabernet blocks were yielding positive results.

Jordan Estate Petit Verdot Grapes
Uniform clusters of Jordan Estate petit verdot grapes before harvest.

A new nemesis

As Jordan Estate vineyards approached their twentieth birthday, during the cool-climate years of 2010 and 2011, they began to struggle to ripen their grapes. Some leaves began to turn red, and it seemed as if another virus was attacking the plants as they approached the twenty-year mark. Vineyards across Sonoma and Napa counties were facing the same sickness, first spotted in Napa Valley in 2008.

Grapevine leaves turning red around other green leaves due to red blotch
Cabernet sauvignon leaves infected with Red Blotch disease.

The grapevine disease became known as Red Blotch, but the cause was not diagnosed until 2016. Like the phylloxera bug that devastated Jordan’s original valley floor vineyard in 1996, an insect named the alfalfa treehopper had attacked the Jordan Estate hillside vineyards, spreading a virus that turned the leaves red each fall. The treatment? Replant every grapevine.

Successful agriculture is a balance of ecology—a marriage between plants, insects, soils and weather. With Jordan grapevines, it seems that the marriage can only last twenty years before it’s time for a fresh start. Young is determined to break the cycle this time. In 2016, a massive seven-year plan to replant Jordan Estate’s 118 acres of grapevines began.

Vineyard replanting for the future

Young’s mission is to return cabernet sauvignon grapes grown on the Jordan property to the final blend, through vineyard replanting, reorienting rows, microfarming and amending the soils with nutrients they don’t naturally possess. The first block, J4, located below John Jordan’s home, is an experimental playground for testing rootstocks, vineyard row spacing and direction, as well as new technologies for applying nutrient applications—all unavailable to Tom Jordan when he planted the estate in 1996.

“The goal of the replanting is to grow the flavors Rob wants in Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon,” Young explains. “I’m determined to get these cabernet grapes back into the Jordan blend.”

When the first vines were removed, Young was surprised at what he found below the surface. “The old vines were j-rooted—meaning the roots took a j-shape, reaching back toward the surface rather than reaching deep into the soil. Vines won’t weather the heat of summer and the rain of winter to grow quality grapes if their roots don’t stretch deep below the soil.”

Basically, the grapevines were planted in too shallow holes, which forced the roots to bind up, instead of reaching down for water and nutrients. Between the planting mistakes made twenty years ago and the spread of Red Blotch disease in Napa and Sonoma, the vineyards had a house of cards stacked against them.

Vineyard blocks are being removed gradually over the course of three years, albeit strategically due to lessons learned from the 1996 replant. It takes 3-5 years for a newly planted vineyard to bear fruit, and the soils also need time to rest fallow to replenish their nutrients before new vines are planted. Great care is taken to remove all of the blocks in sections of the estate at the same time to avoid the possibility of alfalfa treehoppers spreading disease to the new plantings. Petit verdot and malbec, the top-performing vineyards, will be replanted last, as they are valuable components to the Jordan master blend. But rest assured: The replant doesn’t mean there will be less bottles of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon made. Because we have been sourcing quality fruit from several grape growers for a large portion of the Jordan master blend since 2005, the loss of estate grapes isn’t going to impact our annual production numbers.

Jordan Winery Estate Replant with Tractor Tilling Soil
A tractor prepares to add nutrients to a vineyard block before cover crops are seeded. Grapevines won’t be planted for another year.

Guests who visit Jordan Winery to experience the seasonal Estate Tour & Tasting, Vineyard Hikes and Sunset Supper at Vista Point all have the opportunity to see this farming project at various stages while traveling through the 1,200-acre property.

“We’re also changing the orientation of the rows when possible,” Young says. “When the new vines are planted to specific rootstocks and clonal selections, they will receive uniform sun all day, rather than morning sun on one side and afternoon sun on the other. This will eliminate underexposure to sun in the morning and overexposure in the afternoon.”

Beginning to replant the Jordan Estate
Cover crops grow in a cabernet sauvignon vineyard block ready for replanting in spring 2018.

Preparing the ground for replanting J4, the vineyard below John’s home, was arduous.

“We didn’t want any rocks, including magnesium-loaded serpentine, to impede the growth of the vine roots, so we pulled out the old vines and broke up the hardpan,” Young says. “We added soil amendments, such as gypsum, potassium and compost, where the new vines will grow.”

Soils need time to renew after supporting grapevines for decades, so each piece of land will be left fallow for 1-2 years, growing only cover crops. Cover crops are planted to enhance the health of the soil, such as nitrogen-rich legumes, clover and straw. Irrigation and fertigation will be vine-specific, and the goal is to attend to each vine’s needs.

A new vineyard site discovered

The first new vines will be planted at J4 in June 2018, and the last block of the replant is expected in 2021. The other exciting discovery from the replanting and soil studies was a six-acre parcel of land directly across from the Jordan Winery Chateau that had never been planted to grapes but has quality, rocky, volcanic soils similar to the Jordan Estate petit verdot grapevines. This new block, dubbed the Chateau Block, will be planted to cabernet sauvignon. Tractor work began in spring of 2018, and winery visitors will get to see this vineyard being planted over the next several months. We hope to incorporate the Chateau Block into winery tours in the future.

Construction begins on the new Jordan Estate Chateau block for new vineyard plantings
Ground being prepared for soil amendments and future planting of a new vineyard site next to the Jordan Winery Chateau.

For the foreseeable future, Jordan will continue to source cabernet sauvignon grapes from favored Alexander Valley growers. One of them is Mike Mazzoni of Geyserville. Mazzoni is intrigued by Jordan’s replanting efforts, but is taking a wait-and-see stance on the results. “I’m old-school,” he says.

“As long as we’ve been doing this, we continue to learn about grapegrowing, soil structure and vineyard husbandry,” Davis explains. “We can’t change soil, as Andre often told me, but we can work with it and do our best to enhance it. We’re opening new pages for learning, seeking specific fruit character by site.”

Winemaker Rob Davis of Jordan Winery in the vineyard
Winemaker Rob Davis in Jordan Estate’s petit verdot vineyard during fall.

Some growers are now asking Jordan for replanting advice, Davis says. “Sharing knowledge back and forth between our estate and our growers, I love that we have a two-way street with farming, not just winemaking.” Fifth-generation grape grower Bret Munselle of Munselle Vineyards, another top grape grower for Jordan, even stopped by to assess the J4 experiment.

“It’s going to be fun to see how the replanting goes,” Davis says. “In a few years, we may very well ask ourselves, ‘Why didn’t we do this a long time ago?’ ”

Follow us @jordanwinery on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for ongoing vineyard replanting updates.