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Halloween Video Views Fundraiser for ROC Sonoma County

Help wildfire disaster survivors simply by watching this video before November 1, 2018. Every video view means a $1 donation to Rebuilding Our Community Sonoma County. John Jordan explains why we’ve decided to create this fundraising campaign in his video introduction. Here’s some additional background about why we’re using our Halloween video to give back to the community.

Last year, a few weeks before Halloween, life as we know it changed for thousands of people who call Wine Country home. The series of devastating wildfires that broke out in the middle of the night destroyed 5,300 homes in Sonoma County. Sadly, 22 people died in the Santa Rosa area alone. Halloween did not feel like a holiday we wanted to celebrate, so Jordan Winery canceled our annual party to open up hotel rooms for first responders and began the work of helping our employees and the community start to heal.

The John Jordan Foundation continues to fill the fundraising gaps left for local non-profits and community organizations in the wake of the fires so they can continue to provide essential services to families. Many of their donors lost everything in the fires. Jordan continues to donate produce to Sonoma Family Meal, which is still feeding 80 families who are struggling to recover from the disaster.

Tourists to wine country don’t see the scars left by the fires. Our skies are blue, our vineyards are green, our towns are bustling, our wineries are all open and ready to pour you a taste.

Halloween at Jordan is back, and our invitation to the private event was a short film that took almost three months to create. It’s the story of an ancient Egyptian city that was destroyed by fire, but its great wines survived.

We are sharing this film with the public to raise money for Rebuilding Our Community Sonoma County, a collaborative of local non-profits helping more than 800 people displaced from the fires. For every view we receive, our foundation will donate $1 to the charity, up to $25,000. This money will help our community’s most vulnerable fire survivors receive essential support in their recovery, especially those still in need of long-term housing.

We hope you enjoy Indiana Jordan and the Lost City of Cab with glass in hand. Please share this video with your friends and help us reach our goal. Deadline to watch is November 1, 2018. #SonomaStrong

Wine Vintage Chart: A When to Drink Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Aging Guide

How long should cabernet sauvignon be aged before you reach for that corkscrew? It’s the question we’re asked most by winery guests and friends on social media, which inspired us to create a new kind of wine vintage chart for cabernet sauvignon. This wine aging chart gives wine lovers an idea of how each vintage of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon may taste and when to drink it. In addition to the standard wine bottle size of 750ml, magnum bottles, three liters and six liters are also included. Each year, the winery will update our When to Drink Wine Vintage Chart–a Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Aging Guide.

Bottles of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon old red wines

Wine Vintage Chart: Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Aging Guide

Cabernet Sauvignon aging potential is quite long due to the Bordeaux wine grape’s natural tannins, ample acidity and affection for oak. But, as with all red wine longevity, the key to aging gracefully in bottle for decades is balance in winemaking. Crafting cabernet sauvignon with fruit flavors, fine tannins, and natural acidity all in balance allows for the gradual, graceful aging and evolution of great cabernet in bottle.

With proper wine storage, Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon has been known to maintain its grace and still taste good in 750ml bottle for about 30 years. Though our winemakers prefer to drink Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 7-10 years after the vintage date, we continue to receive emails from customers who are still enjoying bottles from the late-1970s and 1980s. (I opened a bottle of 1980 Jordan for my birthday last weekend, and it was magnificent.) As a general rule, magnum and other large-format bottles of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon taste best 12-20 years after release.

As you’ll see in this wine vintage chart, Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon flavors change from vintage to vintage, but you’ll see some flavor trends in each decade as the wine ages in bottle. Taste characteristics range from the bold, ripe fruit flavors of black cherry and blackberry in younger vintages of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon to the subtle aromas of dried cranberry, black tea and leather found in bottles opened more than 10 years after their vintage date. If you like to taste a lot of fruit in your cabernet sauvignon, best to drink it within about a decade of its vintage.

Virtually all wine vintage charts are produced by wine journalists who give each vintage for the entire wine region a score, based on the growing season weather and how the wines tasted while young. We decided that our wine vintage chart should be more of a hybrid wine aging chart/wine peak chart/wine flavor chart. Due to the breadth of the vintage chart–it goes back to the inaugural 1976 Jordan–we have broken it into decades below. There are also links to download the full vintage chart. We hope you find it helpful when you’re storing bottles of great cabernet and trying to decide when to drink them.

History has shown us that when winemakers harvest cabernet grapes at traditional sugar levels (below 25 Brix) to keep alcohol levels lower (below 14%), retain the wine’s acidity, and age the wine in the types of barrels that do not overpower the fruit flavors, the cabernets tend to be more elegant and less of the powerhouse cabernet style that has come into fashion since the 1990s. In our experience, wines that are high in alcohol and tannin lack the acidity and fruit to age gracefully and taste harmonious when mature. Even for a bottle of red wine, one of the keys to a long life is balance and moderation.

Download Jordan Wine Vintage Chart

Download Jordan Cabernet Flavor Chart

Download Complete Jordan Cabernet Aging Guide (Both Charts PDF)

1976-1979 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Vintages

The first few growing seasons for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon were a rollercoaster. Drought conditions prevailed in 1976, and 1977 enjoyed a small crop that yielded balanced wines. 1978 was considering the best of the four vintages, producing ripe, rich red wines. The 1979 was considered more balanced and elegant across the region–ideal for the Jordan house style. All Jordan Cabernet Sauvignons from the 1970s are considered past their peak, though we do come across the occasional 750mL bottle that is still alive. Jordan didn’t start producing big bottles in 1977, and the large-format bottles of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon are still quite alive, especially 1978 and 1979. Click view all vintages to see tasting notes.

Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Aging and Flavor Profile Guide 1980-1989

1980-1989 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Vintages

This is the decade Jordan Winemaker Rob Davis rarely wants to revisit, as it reminds him of all the challenging weather conditions he had to overcome to make great cabernet. Journalists praised 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988 as the best vintages of the decade upon release–each producing ripe, flavorful red wines. 1981, 1982 and 1983 were considered tough years that produced leaner wines with 1981 being the most charming of the three. Even though 1980 had a large crop, the vintage has continued to surprise us; even the 750mL bottles are still alive in 2018. Both 1988 and 1989 yielded more simple wines even though 1988 was a small crop and 1989 a bumper. As with the 1970s, Jordan Cabernet Sauvignons from the 1980s are considered past their peak, though the 1985-1989 and the 1980 Jordan still have some life in 750mL. Large-format bottles are allowing the 1980s cabernets to retain a longer life. Click view all vintages to see tasting notes.

Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Aging and Flavor Profile Guide 1990-1999

1990-1999 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Vintages

Ah, the memories. There were so many great cabernet vintages in the 1990s, it’s hard to pick the best. Upon release, red wines from 1990, 1991, 1994, 1997 and 1999 were all rich and complex vintages; 1992, 1993 and 1995 produced cabernets that were most elegant and supple, but equally delicious. The 1996 is considered a sleeper vintage that came around with age; winemakers were struggling to replant vineyards due to the phylloxera epidemic, but compelling wines were still produced. 1998 was the most challenging vintage of the decade in terms of weather, yielding leaner, more elegant wines. But, 1998 blossomed and gained complexity with time. Magnums of 1998 Jordan opened at our Christmas party three years ago were the star of the show. Still alive with lots of cherry fruit and layers of silk. These vintages are still drinking nicely, so view the wine vintage chart for flavorful profiles that suit your taste. Click view all vintages to see tasting notes.

Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Aging and Flavor Profile Guide 2000-2009

2000-2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Vintages

Another strong decade for great cabernet in California. 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009 are considered the best vintages, producing stunning, complex red wines. But,  2006 should not be overlooked, as it created cabernets that are concentrated and age worthy. The 2000 and 2008 vintages had the most challenging weather, but 2008 is a sleeper vintage–like the 1998–and has never tasted better. It has gained complexity with age. These cabernet vintages from the 2000s are in an optimal drinking window, with big bottles still showing the most dark fruit flavors, so view the wine vintage chart for flavorful profiles that suit your taste. Click view all vintages to see tasting notes.

 2010-2014 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Vintages

A string of great cabernet vintages with only one hiccup. The 2010 vintage was a cooler year producing more elegant cabernets, while the 2011 was so cold and rainy, that many winemakers struggled to make balanced wines. 2012, 2013 and 2014 are the best string of vintages in Jordan winemaking history; most Sonoma/Napa winemakers would agree. All three of highly textured, flavorful vintages with the tannin and acidity to age gracefully. Click view all vintages to see tasting notes.

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Why is 2014 Such a Great Vintage for Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon?

They say good things come in threes. That’s the truth for Cabernet Sauvignon wine lovers this year because 2014 completes the holy trinity of exceptional vintages in Napa and Sonoma, following the superstar harvests of 2012 and 2013. Many Napa and Sonoma Cabernets from the 2014 vintage are available to buy now. Considered a California drought vintage, 2014 enjoyed moderate-to-warm weather from winter to fall, allowing us to craft concentrated, complex Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at Jordan—our 39th vintage from the king of red grapes. Why is 2014 a great vintage for Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon? There were five key events that led to the smooth-as-silk wine you’ll find inside a bottle of 2014 Jordan. Pour yourself a glass of wine and see if you taste the difference.

Cabernet Sauvignon on the vine before the 2014 grape harvest

Cabernet Vineyards Thrived in the California Drought Weather Conditions of 2014

The fourth-driest year on record in California, 2014 enjoyed dry, moderate weather throughout winter with six inches of superbly timed rainfall right before the early bud break in March. Spring conditions remained warm and dry, so the grapevines bloomed early and evenly, leading to the most even flowering and fruit set our winemaker has seen in his career—and he’s been making wine at Jordan since 1976. Extremely dry weather continued in July and August, with only a few heat spikes, allowing the crop to ripen uniformly and develop concentrated flavors. The lack of extreme weather events in 2014, coupled with a critical March rain, judicious irrigation and other water conservation experiments, were key to the quality of cabernet sauvignon grapes harvested in 2014. Grape clusters looked gorgeous and had the kind of intense, fruit flavors of blackberry and cassis that make for a dream vintage.

2014 Jordan Cabernet merlot grapes on the vine

The 2014 Vintage was Average in Crop Size for Alexander Valley Cabernet

Balance in all things is central to Jordan’s winemaking philosophy and elegant style, and grapevines need help keeping their balance through the growing season. We prune their canes in winter to ensure only a small number of buds emerge at the end of winter, we remove extra buds in spring (called “suckering”) to channel their focus and we thin cabernet sauvignon grapes during veraison to ensure that only the evenly ripening clusters get harvested into the same gondolas. Between the lack of rainfall from the California drought and the warm weather, the vineyards carried grapes that were average in size and weight in 2014. We never really had to worry about there being too much fruit on the vine, which can lead to less concentrated flavors. A balanced vine in the vineyard makes for a beautifully balanced wine in the bottle.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Grape Harvest

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes Grew with Perfect Uniformity

Weather can influence the size and uniformity of a grape harvest during three key phases of the annual growing cycle of a grapevine: spring flowering, spring fruit set and summer veraison. When it’s cool, wet or windy during the flowering of the grapevines, the plants don’t bloom evenly, which means every flower doesn’t form into a berry. If it’s too cool or too hot during fruit set, the grapes that formed after flowering will not grow evenly. Extremely hot or cool weather during veraison, when red grapes change color, can also lead to grapes not ripening evenly. None of these weather challenges occurred in 2014. The grape clusters were healthy and uniform, which means fruit, acids, sugars and tannins were also in sync—another key contributor to balance in the wine.

sunscreen on grapevine leaves

Grapes Did Not Get Sunburned from Excessive Heat in 2014

Grape skin, like human skin, can get sunburn from overexposure to intense sun. Grapevine canopies are shaped and shifted each year to try to find the perfect balance of enough sunshine on the grapes, but not too much. Organic sunscreen is even sprayed on the red wine grapes at Jordan every August to protect them (pictured above). Because 2014 didn’t have the major heat waves or dramatic spikes in temperature like 2010 and 2017, the lack of sunburn for both white and red grapes contributed to wine quality. Sunburn to the skins affects the intensity of fruit flavors. Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon’s blackberry, black cherry and cassis flavors were pure, concentrated and delicious from the moment the grapes were pressed.

Cabernet Sauvignon in bins from 2014 grape harvest

Beautiful, Warm Weather During the Early 2014 Grape Harvest

Patience was not a virtue for Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon during the 2014 harvest. Due to the warm weather throughout the growing season, harvest began early for red wine grapes—right after Labor Day. At Jordan Winery, merlot grapes were the first to be picked on September 2, 2014—about 7-10 days earlier than in 2013, which was one week earlier than that. This beautiful weather ensured that Bordeaux grape varieties like cabernet sauvignon and merlot were ripe and ready to be harvested before the autumn equinox, when days gets shorter and the chance of rainfall increases. A mid-September rain shower was a blessing in disguise, which slowed down the picking schedule for thick-skinned cabernet sauvignon, which is one of the few grapes that can handle a little rain without any dilution of flavors. The entire 2014 grape harvest was finished at Jordan by October 10, and we were beyond ecstatic with the quality of 2014 grapes that followed on the heels of two phenomenal vintages.

Sound like a great vintage? Learn more about the 2014 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon on our website. Dig deeper into the 2014 harvest with our winemaker’s harvest report video and our 2014 growing season blog.

Jordan Uncorked Video #17: 2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

The 2006 vintage was a turning point for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon–the first harvest fully under John Jordan’s direction–and wine drinkers could already see the subtle changes in vineyard sources, grape blending and French oak barrel aging when the 2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon released in 2010 for $52.

We’re glad one of our fans requested the 2006 for Jordan Uncorked. Watch our video tasting note to find out how this highly structured red wine is tasting after a decade of bottle aging. Based on the winemakers’ comments, would you drink now or cellar?

The 2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon is available to purchase from our library for $79. Learn more about our recent winemaking enhancements with this blog: Why Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon is Moving to 100% French Oak.

Comment below to let our winemakers which when you’d like them to uncork next.

Don’t forget tune in every month for “Jordan Uncorked” on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

Charity Spotlight: 10,000 Degrees and the John Jordan Foundation

Higher education isn’t a given for everyone. Especially with the rising costs of college and university, sometimes a family’s finances can put a limit on opportunities with post-secondary schooling. I attended four years of undergraduate school at Occidental College, followed by years of grad school at the Empire College School of Law and the University of San Francisco. Many young people aren’t as lucky as I was.

This is why the John Jordan Foundation helped launch 10,000 Degrees in Sonoma County back in 2013. It’s also why we committed five more years of support at the end of 2017.

If you’re not familiar with this great organization, 10,000 Degrees enables students from low-income backgrounds get into and through college in order to positively impact their communities and the world. Over the last five years, we’ve directly helped the organization award more than 1,500 scholarships. In 2017 alone, our contributions resulted in 500 undergraduate scholarships totaling more than $785,000. As it always does, 10,000 degrees awarded all of these scholarships on the basis of the applicants’ financial need, motivation and perseverance. The organization also helped students procure an additional $16 million through federal, state, and private funding sources for an average of more than $14,000 per student.

The John Jordan Foundation hasn’t only given 10,000 Degrees money for scholarships; we’ve donated money for infrastructure improvements, too. In 2016, we helped 10,000 Degrees build a Santa Rosa office and College Success Lab. The latter facility has proven to be a critical resource, especially since the wildfires of October 2017 caused such a disruption in the lives of so many students.

10000 degrees students
Students of the 10,000 Degrees program.

Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of our involvement with 10,000 Degrees is the fact that a number of our 2013 scholarship award recipients completed their degrees in recent months. Two recent Sonoma State University graduates in particular stand out in my mind: Joanna Pacheco, who went on to join the staff of the Sonoma County Probation Department, and Nancy Torres, who currently is working as a clinical assistant at Paradigm San Francisco. These talented young women are working to make the Bay Area a better place to call home.

The relationship between the John Jordan Foundation and 10,000 Degrees is a story of strategic investment and partnership that provides opportunities for low-income students to have a chance at a college degree.

The next time you’re enjoying a bottle of Jordan wine, rest assured that your support of Jordan helps create opportunities for those who might otherwise not have them.

Show Us Your Corks: 2018 California Wine Month Cork Photo Contest

September is California Wine Month–a celebration for wineries and wine lovers that coincides with the excitement of grape harvest season. But you don’t have to visit Napa or Sonoma this month to join the fun. Enter Jordan Winery’s Show Us Your Corks Photo Contest for a chance to win gourmet products and accessories.

Now through September 30, simply take a photo with your camera or smartphone. The only rule is that the photo must have at least one Jordan wine cork. The photo can include corks from other wines, as long as other brand names or trademarks are not visible/recognizable (see Official Rules). Do what you already enjoy doing—uncork a bottle of wine with those you love and have fun—just don’t forget to take a nice photo after you pull that cork.

Photo Contest Entry

To enter the Show Us Your Corks photo contest, follow these steps:

  • Take an artistic photo of wine corks with your camera.  Use smartphone photography tips to ensure a better photo.
  • Upload your photo to the Jordan Facebook page or post it to your Instagram and tag @jordanwinery.
  • Include hashtags #showusyourcorks #CaliforniaWineMonth
  • Submit your entry by September 30, 2018

There is no limit to the number of wine corks that can be pictured in the photo. Photos may not include identifiable people/faces for privacy and permissions reasons.

No purchase of Jordan wine is required to enter. Up to 12 Jordan wine corks may be requested as art supplies at no cost to entrants by emailing marketing@jordanwinery.com. (Please include your full name, shipping address and phone number when requesting corks.).

The deadline for entries is 11:59 p.m. PST on September 30, 2018.

Photo Contest Prizes

The three highest-scoring photos will receive the following prizes:

Judging Criteria

Judging takes place October 1-5, 2018. Winners will be announced the first week of October on this blog, our Facebook page and Instagram page. Submissions will be prepared and will be judged on a 100-point scale as follows:

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

Official Rules

Jordan Winery’s Show Us Your Corks Photo Contest is open to natural persons 21 years of age or older at the time of entry and who are residing in the United States, excluding Puerto Rico and its territories, and any state where the Contest is prohibited by law. Alcohol beverage industry members, including retailers, restaurateurs, and their families, employees or investors cannot participate in accordance with industry law. Please review our official contest rules before entering, which includes specifics about voting criteria, prohibited items and more.

Please help us spread the word by sharing this post. Looking forward to seeing all your photographs!

Why We Rip: The Importance of Deep Ripping Vineyard Soil Before Planting Grapevines

Ripping is not a glamorous word, certainly not one to associate with enjoying a fine glass of wine in moderation. But our soils at Jordan Winery are getting ripped—vineyard by vineyard, block by block—over the next five years. Deep ripping is the most critical farming practice in planting new grapevines in a wine region like Alexander Valley, where the primary soil, called serpentine, is heavy in clay and rock that inhibit the vines’ ability to plunge their roots deep into the ground. Jordan is deep ripping soils across Jordan Estate as part of our seven-year project to replant every grapevine. This blog explains what ripping a vineyard is, the steps deep soil ripping entails and how ripping improves grapevine performance and thus wine quality.

Tractor deep ripping vineyard soils, vineyard planting
A large tractor fitted with a Vibrosoiler Motioning Winged ripper begins the first phase of deep ripping at the new Jordan Chateau Block.

What is Deep Ripping

Deep ripping is a preparation that is done to soils before grapevines are planted. A soil ripper is basically a giant, powerful, underground tiller that helps alleviate the natural soil compaction that occurs over time from farming. Jordan Winery is utilizing the most sophisticated and technologically advanced tiller, the Vibrosoiler Ripping System by AgSoilworks California, which respects sustainable farming while providing a garden-like planting bed for the baby vines to flourish. Before a new vineyard is planted, cover crops are typically sowed to replenish the soil nutrients for 1-2 years, and then it’s time to rip. Soil ripping helps improve soil structure, soil drainability and grapevine root system depth. At Jordan Winery, soil ripping is being used for the first time both before planting a new vineyard on a site that we’ve never used to cultivate grapevines—the Chateau Block across from the winery—and after removing old grapevines that are diseased and no longer producing the quality of grapes we demand.

Soil ripping has gained momentum in the California wine business in the last 40 to 50 years. It’s modern-day popularity began in Sonoma County after winegrowers realized that their grapevines were struggling to break through some types of soils to develop a deep root system, soils that were heavy in clay and serpentine rocks.

Deep Ripping Soil Steps Before Vineyard Planting

One of the key preparations done to land before a vineyard is planted on clay-rich soils, deep soil ripping can be done in two, three or four passes of the vineyard. Jordan Winery has chosen the Patented AgSoilworks Two-Pass System, which involves the following steps:

  1. Choosing the right time of year to deep rip soils. The soil needs to be moist, but not too wet. Every soil is ready at a different time, however, late spring seems to be the best time for soil ripping at Jordan Winery in Sonoma County, once the chance of late-season rain has passed.
  2. Any boulders or large rocks are removed with a backhoe to prepare for the ripping tractor. The fewer the big rocks, the faster and more effective the ripping will be.
  3. A large tractor fitted with a Vibrosoiler Motioning Winged ripper (also called tines or spades) digs deep into the soil to break up the hard pan. At Jordan, our deep ripping target is four feet deep and 6 to 9 feet laterally per row.
  4. The tractor drives straight down the future vineyard rows that have been outlined in advance, guiding the spade to sway back and forth in the deep soils, breaking up the hard pan and knocking rocks to the sides. It’s critical that the tractor rip the soil precisely in the area where the baby grapevines will be planted, and only let his tires drive in the “wheelwork zone” away from the future site of the root zone, as the wheelwork zone will be naturally compacted by the weight of the tractor.
  5. For soil ripping to be fully effective, the tractor operator utilizes GPS-Autopilot accurate to one-inch, guiding the tractor and target depth of the blade. Ripping at the correct subsoil moisture content is critical for effective decompaction of soils with high clay content. This depth can range from 4 to 6 feet deep and 2 to 12 feet across, depending on which type of deep ripping system the farmer chooses. The AgSoilworks system Jordan Winery has chosen will break up the soil roughly 9 feet across.
  6. Compost and other supplements, such as calcium sulfate, are applied to give the soil any nutrients it might be lacking.
  7. A tractor fitted with a patented twin ripper and a roller will come through and rip the compost deep into the soil. Vineyard stakes and irrigation lines can then be installed—the final steps before baby grapevines are planted in the ground.
  8. The soil ripping process takes about one hour per acre to complete and costs about $350 to $650 per acre.

As soon as the deep ripping is complete, the grapevines can be planted immediately. Although deep ripping can be done in as many as four passes, we prefer to focus on sustainability and only rip twice because every time a big tractor drives over the ground, it’s re-compacting the soil.

Jordan Winery vineyard crew planting grapevines
A vineyard crew member plants baby grapevines at Jordan after deep ripping.

How Deep Ripping Soil Helps Grapevines

This deeper and wider form of soil tilling and amending will increase uniformity and fertility giving the newly planted grapevine the best opportunity for developing deep root systems, which help them access more water and more nutrients and better weather heat waves and other climatic events. The work is completed by a farming consultant, AgSoilWorks, who has developed these patented technologies in conjunction with leading international soil scientists. Essentially, what we’re doing when we rip is developing the most optimum soil for farming the highest quality grapes through improved soil moisture and texture.

The goal of soil ripping is simple: to create a uniform soil structure where the plant’s root zone will live. To achieve a uniform root zone, ripping must be employed continuously along the future row where the grapevines will be planted. Uniformity of soil drainability and texture helps lead to uniformity of leaf and fruit growth, which is critical for wines like Jordan, where balance and elegance in the wine’s fruit, acidity, tannin and alcohol can only be achieved by starting with uniform grapes that reach their ripeness without excessive sugar levels or dehydration.

Grape growers who invest in soil ripping before planting a vineyard also do so because it’s been found to help new vineyards become stronger, healthier and live longer due to their improved ability to develop a deep, focused root system. The roots of vines from a deep-ripped soil have been found to stretch 4-6 feet deeper than compacted soils that have not been ripped. Jordan first planted grapevines on the estate in 1996, after the phylloxera root louse devastated our first estate vineyard on the valley floor, which was planted in the early 1970s. As mentioned in our blog about why we began replanting the entire Jordan Estate in 2016, it was frustrating that our estate grapevines were only productive for 20 years, and that some vineyard blocks started to decrease in performance after just eight years. By investing in soil ripping before we replant, we hope to double the life expectancy of our grapevines. It’s another way to look at sustainability as a small business. Sustainability is more than using eco-friendly farming techniques that have a gentle touch on the land. It’s sustaining the life of a grapevine as long as possible, giving it the best chance to be healthy and happy in the ground—and yield quality wine grapes for decades, so that our investment in the planting pays for itself.

Ripping technology has another benefit that is very attractive to grape growers. Due to historic drought conditions in recent years and limited availability of water resources, we are constantly looking for ways to conserve water. The patented twin ripper with roller acts as a “water harvester,” opening the soil and increasing water and nutrient uptake into the root zone—the place where the plant needs it most.

But soil ripping won’t be totally effective without adding soil amendments. After the first pass in deep soil ripping, the future site of the vineyard is prepped by sprinkling nutrients on the recently ripped soils—amendments such as gypsum (a type of calcium) and compost, which are tilled into the decompacted soil. These nutrients are needed for the common serpentine soil and other heavy clay soils found in parts of Alexander Valley. This challenging soil profile is one of the reasons why we have chosen to only plant a maximum of about 120 acres of grapevines on select hillsides across the nearly 1,200-acre Jordan Estate—those hillsides with the least amount of serpentine rock that require the least amount of supplements in vitamins and nutrients. (Our blog post about soil-mapping digs deeper into precision farming by soil type.)

The benefits of deep ripping usually last for about three years but can last more than a decade with proper soil maintenance, organic matter incorporation and controlled traffic.

Scroll down and subscribe to our blog for a biweekly digest on what’s happening at Jordan, including the vineyard replant progress.

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 14
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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Jordan Uncorked Video #16: 2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting

We’ve received several emails from fans wondering when to drink the 2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley. In this episode, Maggie and John taste a bottle of this aged red wine, pulled from our cellar. After almost a decade of age, this cabernet is silky-smooth and drinking beautifully, still showing nice acidity, dark fruit and soft tannins. The 2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon is currently available to buy online from our shop.

Comment below with your requests for which wines these winemakers should uncork next.

Don’t forget tune in every month for “Jordan Uncorked” on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.