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Sonoma County Flooding: How Floods Impact Vineyards During Winter

California vineyards rely on winter rains to fill water reservoirs and replenish the underground water table. Reservoirs, such as lakes and ponds, are used for irrigation during dry summer months when the grapevines are growing, and the deep roots of grapevines need ample water to seep below ground and help feed the vines when they awaken from winter sleep during bud break. After many years of historic drought conditions, Napa and Sonoma wine country have experienced very wet winters and major flooding. This blog summarizes how flooding impacts vineyards and how recent winter storms affected the drought.
sonoma county vineyard flooding

Does flooding harm grapevines?

Most of the annual rainfall in California comes during winter, when vineyards are dormant. During this phase of the grapevine’s annual cycle, the rain has no effect on the plant. Vitis vinifera, the types of European grapevines planted throughout California, can tolerate flooding and cold temperatures, to a degree. The vines can have “wet feet” for about 20 days of straight rain without any issues, and we only received a week’s worth. Because Sonoma County winters are mild, temperatures also rarely fall below 30 degrees, and these types of grapevines can handle temperatures down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit before the cold potentially damages the wood trunk of the plant. A bigger concern is erosion of hillsides and fallen trees, which can destroy a vineyard or impact our staff’s ability to get back into the vineyard to do the most laborious, important work each winter—pruning.

pruning grapes at Jordan, how to prune a vineyard
Jordan Winery staff prune the grapevines down to a two-bud spur in January.

How flooding affects grapevine pruning

It takes our crew of five employees about three months to hand-prune each grapevine, removing almost 90 percent of its canes from the previous year. Grapevine pruning is a race against the clock. It’s a critical step for setting the balance of the crop, and it can only be done by hand. Precision is involved, and that means moving slow, as demonstrated in this pruning video. Machines can be used to cut the top of the cane off, saving workers time and decreasing the possibility of shoulder injuries (see blog post about our pruning experiment), but a skilled vineyard worker must examine each vine and make decisions on which canes to cut, whittling each vine down to a two-bud spur, which should produce four grape clusters that growing season (two clusters per bud). Mother Nature wasn’t on our side in recent years. In 2017, we had to begin winter pruning on mornings where temperatures dipped just below freezing, and then the rain delay began. In 2019, when the ground was too wet to prune grapevines, we focused on erosion control and other pre-storm measures to protect our creeks from soil run-off. All pruning must be completed prior to bud break, which typically begins in March. When heavy rain continues well into February, as it did in 2017 and 2019, the weather puts us 2-3 weeks behind schedule for Jordan Estate pruning in Alexander Valley and also at the grower Chardonnay vineyards in Russian River Valley.

What causes major flooding in Wine Country

The main cause of heavy winter rainfall that leads to flooding throughout California is a climatic event called an atmospheric river, aka the Pineapple Express. The series of storms gets its name from the Hawaiian Islands, where moisture pressure builds as it moves east and then gets dumped on the West Coast.   

After a week-long atmospheric river wave dropped up to 20 inches of rain and 12 feet of snow in January 2017, Northern California’s drought was declared officially over. According to the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor, the 2017 atmospheric river, coupled with significant rainfall in fall of 2016, pushed Sonoma and surrounding counties into a drought-free zone for the first time since 2012. A Washington Post report said 35 percent of California emerged from drought, a big jump from the previous 19 percent. In 2016, the entire state had some sort of drought designation. As vineyard owners prepared to enter the sixth year of a historic drought, the rain began to fall in late October. It seemed as if Healdsburg had more rainy days than sunny ones; most cities in the Bay Area saw more than double their annual precipitation in the fall of 2016. When the Russian River crested in January 2017 around 38 feet, that was its highest mark since 2006, when it topped 42 feet during storms on New Year’s Eve of 2005 that continued well into the new year—the most damaging floods in recent memory. The ground had plenty of water for vegetative growth, which fueled the fall 2017 fires, sadly.

The Pineapple Express came roaring back in 2019. The Russian River flooded in several areas around Valentine’s Day–including where the river bends and turns north near Jordan Estate. About 10-12 inches of rain fell around Healdsburg over three days. Alexander Valley Road was closed at the bridge east of Jordan Winery, which created a lot of headaches for tour guests and delivery drivers. Less than two weeks later, another atmospheric river hit Sonoma County, causing the Russian River to swell to 45 feet before cresting. The winery driveway at the bottom of the hill flooded for the first time since 1997, but the waters receded within a few hours. The cities of Sebastopol and Guerneville in western Sonoma County were the hardest hit.

Jordan Winery driveway flooding

The good news? Drought is no longer a constant concern, reservoirs are full and the vineyards have ample moisture down to their roots, all of which bodes well for the next vintage.

Learn more about recent Sonoma County floods:

USA Today: California flooding

CNN: Pineapple Express drenches California with rain, snow and flooding

Press Democrat: Russian River set to flood

Washington Post: The drought is over in Northern California

Press Democrat: Russian River to crest Wednesday

Mercury News: California drought: Is October rain making a difference?


Fun Things to Do in Healdsburg: Find The Best Jordan Experience Infographic

We know how it is when you’re trying to find fun things to do in Healdsburg. Some days, you’re all about the wine; others, you just want to get outside among the vines. Here at Jordan, we offer an array of experiences by appointment to satisfy the outdoor, food or wine lover in you. To help you find the Jordan wine experience that’s best for you, we created this “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style infographic.

From formal library wine tastings in Jordan’s cellar room, to epicurean excursions among the hills of our Alexander Valley estate vineyard, to special events like our Sunset Supper at Jordan Vista Point and Bastille Day Brunch at the vine-covered Winery Château, we’ve got you covered.

Fun Things to Do in Healdsburg: Find Your Jordan Wine Experience Infographic

Which Jordan Winery Experience is Best for You Infographic

More information about private food and wine pairings can be found in the Jordan Estate Rewards loyalty program overview on our website.

Dinner parties, hikes and other lunches can be found on the Jordan Winery events calendar.

All tours and tastings are available to be booked online the Jordan Winery visit page with CellarPass.

Four Secrets to Making the Best Russian River Valley Chardonnay

With 40 harvests under his belt, Winemaker Rob Davis knows his way around the vineyard… and the cellar. Although reluctant to share, Rob reveals his four secrets to making the best Russian River Valley Chardonnay in this post. His approaches spotlight the fruit, freshness and minerality in Jordan’s elegant Chardonnay to create a balanced white that has sommeliers and wine lovers alike confusing it with wines from the famed French Burgundy region. We blush.

 Russian River Valley sunrise aerial BLOG 9927

#1 Staying cool

The Russian River Valley wine region’s foggy, cool coastal influences create a natural air-conditioning for vineyards during spring, summer and fall. This allows the grapes to develop full flavor maturity over an extended growing season, sometimes up to 20 percent longer than neighboring Sonoma County wine regions. These weather patterns are ideal for cool-climate varieties, particularly Chardonnay, affording grapes an uncommon depth and richness while still maintaining bright, natural acidity. When Davis matches this cool-climate-loving grape with gravely, well-draining soils along the river, the result is grapes that are fresh and lively, with crisp acidity to add length and complexity. The exposed gravel in the soils also imparts elegance and minerality to the wine.

 Jordan Chardonnay Russian River Valley Grapes BLOG 438A9269

#2 Balancing the grapevine

When it comes to crop size, less can be more in the vineyard. Having an intimate understanding of each vineyard’s optimal number of clusters per vine—not too many or too few—yields a better wine. “Too much fruit leads to weak flavors and going too extreme with lower tons per acre makes the vine focus energy away from the fruit and into growing a vigorous canopy,” Davis says. “Under-cropping also leads to less fruitful buds the following year.” Davis spends twice as much time in our Russian River Valley Chardonnay grower vineyards than our Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon grower vineyards to give the additional attention Chardonnay vines need so that the precise amount of clusters remain and ripen perfectly throughout the summer. Ranch Manager Brent Young has also taken over farming for two of our most prized grower vineyards—a decision that costs more than letting the grower tend to the vines, but allows for the ultimate control over grapevine uniformity and fruit quality. A balanced vine means a balanced wine.

Jordan Winery Rob Davis, Russian River Valley Chardonnay grapes

#3 Harvesting for purity

Night harvests create cooling magic for the Russian River Valley Chardonnay from Jordan’s  growers. Starting at midnight, floodlights illuminate vineyards where workers gather plump bunches of grapes. By dawn, temperatures can drop to the 40s. When those chilly clusters are pressed, they release heady aromas of apples and pears. “Harvesting in the coldest hours preserves acidity and elevates both aroma and flavor. You see the purity of fruit coming through,” says Davis, who calls himself “a humble student of Chardonnay” even though he has been making wine at Jordan Vineyard & Winery since 1976—a rarity in California. Night harvesting by hand is also more expensive, but the resulting elevation in vibrant flavors, bouquet and acidity is worth it for Jordan. Quality without compromise is our mantra.


#4 Being gentle in the cellar

Chardonnay is the puppet of wine grapes: thin-skinned and easily manipulated. Davis has always resisted the big, buttery style of Chardonnay, choosing to focus on techniques of subtlety that protect the fragile fruit intensity of Chardonnay while minimizing the grape’s penchant for bitterness. Jordan Chardonnay receives the lightest touch of French oak, the barrels carefully chosen from fine-grained woods that impart nuanced flavor and structure, and malolactic fermentation and bâttonage are employed judiciously. “Our focus is to intensify the fruit and also give beautiful balance in the palate,” Davis says. “Too much brass and percussion in the wine, and you can’t hear its violins and woodwinds.”

All this attention to detail underscores the winemaking philosophy that has guided Jordan since the inaugural 1976 vintage: craft wines of balance and elegance that can stand with the best in France. Our Russian River Valley Chardonnay showcases flavors of Fuji and green apple that play off fresh Meyer lemon and lime zest, sustained by vibrant acidity. A creamy mid-palate glides to a lingering finish, with a juicy succulence that makes you want to take another sip.

Try our Russian River Valley Chardonnay with our latest vintage and comment below with your tasting notes.

Do Grapes Change Color? Understanding Grape Veraison

Each summer, grapes begin to change color in our vineyards. The beginning of ripening, grape veraison is the time in a vine’s annual lifecycle when the red grapes change from green to purple hues. Veraison, French for the “onset of ripening,” usually begins in July in moderate weather years, but in cooler vintages, red grapes sometimes don’t start changing color until August. As a general rule, the time from coloration to harvest is typically about six weeks. In challenging, cooler vintages (such as 2011, pictured in the above video), veraison can take longer and lead to unevenly ripened grapes.

There’s much more to grape veraison than the fascinating color change we can see with our eyes. The grapes cease growing in size during this period of their lives. Grapevines begin focusing all their energy into the existing clusters hanging on their shoots, allowing sugars to increase and acids to decrease.

Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon veraison, red grapes turning green
Uniform grape veraison taking place in Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards.

Why Uniform Grape Veraison is Important

Winemakers want the grape clusters to go through veraison fairly quickly, because the uniformity of coloring within the clusters equals uniform flavors at harvest time. Being able to harvest uniformly ripened grapes is one of the keys to making a silky, balanced Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. If some grapes in the clusters are under-ripe, some perfect and some overripe, the finished wine will express some combination of too dry, too fruity and even too hot or high in alcohol. Only uniformly colored red wine grapes can make a balanced, smooth wine.

Jordan Winery malbec grapes veraison green grapes changing color through veraison.
An example of uneven veraison, which forces winemakers to remove any clusters that were not uniformly ripening.

Addressing Uneven Colors During Veraison

The warmer the weather, the more likely the grapes will change colors swiftly and uniformly. So, what does a winemaker do when the grapes change color unevenly?  At Jordan, we practice veraison “thinning” of clusters–removing any grape clusters that still have a mix of green and red berries after ripening begins. This sacrifice ensures the remaining grapes on the vine develop consistent flavors.

During ideal growing seasons, moderately warm temperatures help veraison happen at a perfect pace. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec grapes start changing color in Alexander Valley in mid- to late July, depending on when vineyard pruning occurred and the microclimate of each vineyard. In an average year, Jordan’s Alexander Valley vineyards complete veraison over 10 to 14 days.

Do Grapes Change Color at Different Times?

Different red grape varieties go through veraison at different times. Thinner-skinned grapes like Pinot Noir tend to change color first–and thus are harvested first. At Jordan, the red grape harvest typically begins in mid-September (or the third week of the month) with Merlot grapes, which ripen about one or two weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. The tiny hillside parcel of Malbec grapes we source begins veraison around the same time as Merlot, while Jordan Estate Petit Verdot grapes tend to change color 2-3 weeks later than the other three Bordeaux grapes that comprise the Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon master blend. Saving the best for last, we generally pick Cabernet Sauvignon later than the others.

Above, you can see the variation in the architecture of the grape clusters and ripening differences. These photos were taken between the end of the July to the first week of August.

Subscribe to our newsletter and go behind the scenes with our winemaking and vineyard staff twice per month.

Grape Veraison Photography Gallery


The Best Years for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Back to the 1976 Vintage

Many people ask us about the best Jordan Cabernet years, either because they are wondering when to open a special bottle they’ve been cellaring, or they’re considering purchasing a cabernet from Jordan’s extensive library collection. Vintage wine is a living thing that changes and evolves over time, and each year’s weather and growing conditions can have a profound effect on individual vintages. A wine made from the same vineyard using identical techniques in the cellar can taste quite different in a cool, rainy year versus a dry, warm one. Likewise, a fresh, fruity cabernet can blossom into a deep, complex vintage wine after time in the cellar.

Each year, Jordan winemaker Rob Davis revisits older vintages in Jordan’s library to see how they are developing and adjust his annual recommendations for the Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Chart & When To Drink Guide. Inevitably, certain years rise to the top as Jordan’s finest. Following are the best years for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, chosen from all of the winery’s vintages released to date. (New wines will be added to this post upon release.)

Jordan’s oldest vintage wines—especially those from the 1970s, 1980s and into the mid-`90s—are not listed for sale on Jordan’s website due to limited quantities. For current availability information, please call us at 800-654-1213 or email us, if you can’t find the wine online.

Best Jordan Cabernet Years: Old Vintage Wines & Recent Releases

1978 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1978 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

1978 was considered a great vintage across the region. After a cold, wet spring, warm weather prevailed. Despite two previous years of drought, the crop in Alexander Valley was bountiful and of exceptionally high quality. Though 1978 was a classic year for cabernet, four decades is a long time for red wine to live. As expected, the 1978 Jordan Cabernet is beyond peak maturity. It presents shy notes of leather, tobacco and cedar with hints of cherry, spice and dust. While this wine still displays the charms of an old, classic Bordeaux-style red, Rob Davis prefers the 1979 for its aging merit.

1979 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1979 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

1979 yielded a smaller crop than 1978 and the wine was more concentrated, but less opulent. In its youth, the 1979 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was considered a great wine for its fruit and finesse—assertive in fruit expression, yet well-rounded in bouquet. Decades later, the wine is desperately holding on to what is left of the once perfectly balanced components of acidity, fruit, alcohol and tannins. It has a lovely aged Bordeaux quality (leather, cherry, herbal tea, plums), and a still-lively palate with soft, silky tannins. While wines bottled in 750mL are past their peak, larger formats should be opened now.

1980 jordan cabernet

1980 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine’s fine tannins, firm acidity and rich cherry fruit characters have made it one of Jordan’s longest-lived vintages. The 1980 growing season was long and cool, and the grapes enjoyed extended hang time that resulted in incredibly intense flavors. The vintage was also marked by huge tannins, so the softer Merlot fruit was essential in finding a harmonious balance. The 1980 vintage still flaunts ruby-red color and texture, and tastes 15 years younger than it is. Some delicate red fruits and spices still linger on the soft palate, where the acid and tannins live on. The 750mL, 3L and 6L formats should be enjoyed now. Magnums are at their peak.

1985 jordan cabernet

1985 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Rob Davis regards 1985 as the best vintage of the 1980s—a decade that included very few good years. Gorgeous weather in Alexander Valley produced ripe, rich and fleshy cabernets with superb balance. A nice, even growing season led to tremendous harmony both in the vineyards and the grapes. Though still a beauty on many levels, the 1985 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon is finally showing its age. Bottles stored under the best conditions show mature flavors of dried red fruit, leather and earth with hints of caramel. The 750mL is past its peak, and magnums, 3L and 6L formats should be uncorked now.

1990 jordan cabernet

1990 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

This was one of several excellent vintages in the 1990s, including 1990-1992, 1994, and especially 1995 and 1997. The combination of ideal weather and healthy, maturing grapevines produced a remarkable wine that was big and lush, yet balanced. Aside from a slightly reduced crop due to spring rain, 1990 was an ideal growing season. The wine is still lively, with dried cherry and plum aromas in the foreground, backed by forest floor, eucalyptus, tobacco and tea. The finish is long, silky, complex and complete. All bottle formats are drinking beautifully and ready to enjoy.

1991 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1991 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Considered a classic vintage due to the growing conditions, 1991 presented no weather extremes. A late harvest allowed great depth of fruit and complex tannins to develop in Jordan’s Alexander Valley estate vineyards, from which this wine was exclusively made. The wine still offers notes of dried herbs, cassis and plum, with supple tannins and moderate acidity. Drink the 750mL and 1.5L now, as they are just past peak maturity. The 3L and 6L should also be opened now, but will hold for a couple more years.

1992 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1992 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Considered an opulent vintage, this wine benefited from ideal, warm weather during the growing season. The 1992 harvest was early and warm, with very little rain. The grapes in Jordan’s valley floor estate vineyards ripened quickly, offering layers of red and black fruit flavors. Aromas of black cherry, plum, nutmeg, and a hint of fennel are rounded out by perfumed cassis with a bouquet of French oak. Drink the 750mL and 1.5L now, while at peak maturity. The 3L and 6L are also excellent now, and should be decanted 20 to 30 minutes before drinking.

1994 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1994 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

The long, cool harvest season allowed this cabernet to fully develop its varietal character through extended hang time. A long harvest occurred due to cold nights late in the growing season, which prolonged ripening and allowed the fruit to reach optimal sugar levels. Acidity in the juice was low due to the extra time on the vine, but it increased due to the tannic acid in the skins by the time the wine was pressed. The 1994 Jordan Cabernet is just past its peak but still beautifully rounded and balanced with aromas of red cherry, light black fruits and sweet floral notes. Magnums, 3L and 6L formats should be enjoyed now.

1995 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1995 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

At the time of release, this Bordeaux-like wine reminded Rob Davis of the hands of a surgeon—strong and well-coordinated, yet delicate. A long harvest due to cold nights late in the growing season prolonged ripening and fruit concentration perfectly complemented the rich, supple tannins achieved by the long hang time. The 1995 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon still displays great balance between its persistent tannin structure and seemingly youthful acidity. Blackberry, cherry and cassis dominate the nose and are amply confirmed on the palate with the addition of cedar and a hint of anise. Drink 750mL bottles now (decant 15 minutes before enjoying). Larger formats are approaching peak drinkability.

1997 jordan cabernet

1997 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine’s Sonoma County designation reflects the broader grape sourcing used during the replanting of Jordan’s estate vineyard after phylloxera devastated Northern California vineyards. 1997 was a generous vintage that provided a bounty of stunning fruit—intensely aromatic and layered with lush, dense flavors. Harvest began a month early with grapes picked at a frantic pace. The fruit was intensely aromatic, layered with blackberry, chocolate and cassis. At full maturity, the 1997 Jordan Cabernet presents flavors of black cherry, strawberry, herbs and cedar. With ripe and supple tannins, the wine is at its peak in 750mL and 1.5L. 3L and 6L bottles can hold for three to five more years.

1999 jordan cabernet

1999 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

1999 marked the first harvest from Jordan’s estate hillside vineyards. Overall cluster weights were 40% lower than normal due to tiny, intensely flavored berries. Continuing to showcase a great structure and polished tannins, the wine is rich and silky on the palate, with concentrated aromas of black cherry, blackberry and cassis. Layers of dark fruit flavors are integrated with smooth tannins and an attractive freshness for its age. Fresh and bright out of the bottle—a real Jordan powerhouse—the 1999 is now at its peak. Drink 750mL bottles now through 2021, 1.5L now through 2025, 3L through 2030 and 6L through 2035.

2002 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2002 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Arguably this decade’s greatest vintage, 2002 marks Jordan’s return to the Alexander Valley appellation after replanting its estate vineyard due to phylloxera. The vintage was characterized by fruit uniformity due to an excellent growing season tempered by a lack of extreme heat or rain. Overall, it was a wonderful season which produced a layered, textured cabernet sauvignon. The 2002 still tastes quite young, displaying aromas of red cherries, dried herbs and a hint of white pepper. The palate is silky and round, exuding layers of black cherry and blackberry flavors seamlessly integrated with smooth tannins. Dried cherry and jasmine tea flavors linger on the finish. Drink 750mL bottles now through 2022. Enjoy or cellar magnums through 2030.

2007 jordan cabernet

2007 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2007 vintage was a winemaker’s dream. A smaller crop yielded more concentrated flavors in the grapes, and moderate temperatures allowed the fruit to mature slowly, resulting in one of Jordan’s top vintages of the decade. Temperate conditions allowed the winery to pick pristine grapes over a six-week period, ensuring optimal maturity. The 2007 wine exudes beautiful, dense  blackberry and cassis aromas that echo through the mid-palate. A lush mouthfeel of well integrated, silky tannins and balanced acidity is accented by notes of vanilla and cedar. Drink 750mL bottles now or cellar through 2027. Larger formats can hold from 2035 to 2056.

2009 jordan cabernet

2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Rob Davis was ecstatic about this vintage, which combined an excellent Alexander Valley growing season with Jordan’s new direction for fruit sourcing. Enticing aromas of blackberry, cassis, oak spices and cedar carry through a textured, silky palate with smooth tannins from French oak aging. The 2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon is still showing some youthful acidity and dark fruit after years of age. Enjoy 750mL bottles through 2028, 1.5L bottles through 2034 and 3L bottles through 2042.

2012 jordan cabernet

2012 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 was truly a phenomenal growing season, resulting in one of the most complex Jordan Cabernet Sauvignons to date. The vintage validated Jordan’s decision to elevate the black-fruit intensity in the wines without abandoning the house style, culminating in an incredibly complex, balanced wine. The 2012 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon has concentrated aromas of blackberries and black cherries with an inviting hint of cedar. Its silky palate is plush yet poised, boasting a beautiful balance of black fruit and fine tannin structure. The finish is lively, lingering and laced with ripe dark fruits. The wine tastes incredible in magnum now and will continue to reward collectors for decades.

2013 jordan cabernet

2013 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the warmest, driest and earliest growing seasons on record, 2013 had moderate weather throughout summer, allowing the grapes to develop intense, concentrated flavors with lots of structure. Exceptionally rich and complex, the wine has intense aromas of cassis, black currants, blackberries and ripe cherries with a lovely floral note. The palate is rich and seductive, with concentrated flavors of blackberries and cassis, interwoven with fine tannins from new French oak barrels. Its masculine structure is harnessed by a balance of acidity and dark fruits with a long, cassis-laced finish. This is a highly collectible vintage to be enjoyed now or cellared through 2032.

2014 jordan cabernet

2014 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

The third in a string of exceptional vintages, the 2014 is an opulent yet elegant wine that captures the essence of Alexander Valley. This balanced, Bordeaux-style wine’s perfume of blackberries and black cherries mingles with subtle oak notes. The palate has a velvety richness that coats the mouth in concentrated flavors of blackberries and cassis, laced with fine tannins from seamlessly integrated, new French oak. Enticing flavors of chocolate, violets and dark fruits linger on the long finish. Enjoy now or cellar through 2033.



Jordan Estate Rewards Loyalty Program News

At Jordan, we’re always looking for ways to evolve the Jordan Estate Rewards loyalty program and offer new experiences for our members. This year, we’re made some exciting changes to winery lodging rewards, private tastings and private meals. Read on to learn more about what’s new in 2019.

Jordan winery dining room table settings wineries with restaurants
The Jordan dining room before remodel.

The New Jordan Dining Room Debuts in February

This winter, the Jordan Winery dining room underwent its first remodel since the mid-1990s. Working with our culinary team, San Francisco-based designer Geoffrey De Sousa has reimagined the space with the help of master artisans from Sonoma County to London. Our sold-out Valentine’s Dinner on February 9 will be the first opportunity for members to experience the dining room. Reservation requests are now being accepted for other private tastings, lunches and dinners.

wine tasting with food pairing at Jordan, Jordan Winery loyalty program dining room table
Six private food and wine pairing experiences are offered to members.

Private Tables Tasting Experiences Offered in Jordan Dining Room

To share our newly remodeled dining room with guests, Jordan Winery has reimagined our private tasting experiences for Jordan Estate Rewards members and created what we call Private Tables. Getting access to Private Tables is quite easy. Spend $500 on any combination of Jordan wines, tasting fees, event tickets, olive oil or other merchandise, and you become a Silver member. Silver members get access to Private Tables for three different tastings experiences: Champagne & Caviar Tasting, Charcuterie & Wine Tasting and Wine Tasting with Hors d’Oeuvres. Gold and Platinum members of Jordan’s loyalty program can book their own private table for all these wine tasting experiences, two different lunches or a formal dinner. Membership is free and automatic when you join the winery’s mailing list. Learn more about Jordan Estate Rewards on our website.

Jordan Chardonnay chilling in Jordan Winery suite - wineries with lodging
A bottle of Jordan Chardonnay welcomes overnight guests.

New Off-Season Pricing for Jordan Winery Lodging Rewards

The ultimate way to experience Sonoma County wine country is waking up at a vineyard, and Jordan Winery is making overnight stays in our luxurious lodging more accessible to Jordan Estate Rewards members. We’ve revamped our point levels for overnight stay rewards in 2019, offering Gold and Platinum members off-season pricing on lodging rewards for nine months out of the year–and with the same lower rate for both weekdays and weekends. Off-Season Overnight Stays (November-July) for winery lodging begin at $150 per night plus 5,000 points, and Harvest Overnight Stays (August-September-October) begin at $150 per night plus 10,000 points. To learn more, visit Overnight Stays on our website.

All rewards include points and a redemption fee. Prices and points listed are per person and subject to change.

View our What To Do in Healdsburg blog post to learn what else is new at Jordan this year.

Who Drank the Most Cabernet and Chardonnay in 2018? A Jordan Winery Chart of U.S. Wine Consumption

In what has become an annual tradition, we compiled a report of U.S. wine consumption for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in 2018. How did your home state do? Did you move up or down in the rankings compared to 2016 and 2017? For the first time since we began this end-of-year summary, some big shifts occurred in the top rankings for Cabernet. Let’s just say it’s time for Texans to pop a few more corks in 2019. Chardonnay did not see too much of a change at the top of the rankings from previous years, but Oklahoma posted the biggest gains. Observations on which states had the most significant changes are included in each ranking list, so be sure to see if your home state made a big move.

Figures included are based on total cases sold January 1-November 30, 2018 (December numbers won’t be available until mid-January). Thank you for drinking Jordan and making it a great year. Raising a glass to 2019!

Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Map: Who Drank the Most by State 2018

Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon U.S. Wine Consumption by State 2018

Observations on changes from 2017 to 2018: New York ousted Texas for the number 2 ranking! Virginia jumped seven spots, Massachusetts and Nevada traded places in the top 10 and Nebraska moved up four spots on the list. Arizona also inched up two spots, while Hawaii and Wisconsin moved down four spots.

  1. California

  2. New York

  3. Texas

  4. New Jersey

  5. Florida

  6. Illinois

  7. Nevada

  8. Massachusetts

  9. Colorado

  10. Georgia

  11. Arizona

  12. Connecticut

  13. Virginia

  14. North Carolina

  15. Ohio

  16. Louisiana

  17. Missouri

  18. Tennessee

  19. Hawaii

  20. Michigan

  21. Minnesota

  22. South Carolina

  23. District of Columbia

  24. Oregon

  25. Indiana

  26. Pennsylvania

  27. Utah

  28. Maryland

  29. Arkansas

  30. Wisconsin

  31. Washington

  32. Alabama

  33. Rhode Island

  34. Mississippi

  35. Kansas

  36. Wyoming

  37. Kentucky

  38. Idaho

  39. New Mexico

  40. Oklahoma

  41. Nebraska

  42. Montana

  43. North Dakota

  44. Iowa

  45. Delaware

  46. West Virginia

  47. Alaska

  48. New Hampshire

  49. Maine

  50. Vermont

  51. South Dakota

Jordan Chardonnay Map: Who Drank the Most by State 2018

Jordan Chardonnay U.S. Wine Consumption by State 2018

Observations on changes from 2017 to 2018: Oklahoma was the bigger winner, jumping seven spots, but both Connecticut and Alabama gained an impressive five, and Washington state climbed four spots. Nevada and Illinois traded spots in the top 10. Chardonnay lovers in New Hampshire and Nebraska need to start drinking–your states both slipped four spots in the ranking.

  1. California

  2. Texas

  3. Florida

  4. New York

  5. New Jersey

  6. Massachusetts

  7. Nevada

  8. Colorado

  9. Illinois

  10. Georgia

  11. Arizona

  12. Connecticut

  13. Louisiana

  14. Hawaii

  15. Virginia

  16. North Carolina

  17. Missouri

  18. Minnesota

  19. Michigan

  20. South Carolina

  21. District of Columbia

  22. Alabama

  23. Ohio

  24. Washington

  25. Rhode Island

  26. Tennessee

  27. Oregon

  28. Utah

  29. Oklahoma

  30. Maryland

  31. Indiana

  32. Arkansas

  33. Mississippi

  34. New Mexico

  35. Wisconsin

  36. Pennsylvania

  37. Kentucky

  38. Wyoming

  39. Kansas

  40. Delaware

  41. Iowa

  42. Idaho

  43. Montana

  44. New Hampshire

  45. Nebraska

  46. Maine

  47. Alaska

  48. South Dakota

  49. North Dakota

  50. Vermont

  51. West Virginia

Jordan Uncorked Video #21: 2014 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Holiday Cookie Pairings

Cookies and cabernet. That certainly isn’t the food and wine pairing that has sommeliers singing all the way to the cellar. But in the spirit of the holidays, our winemakers decided to uncork a bottle of the 2014 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon and taste it with some favorite Christmas cookies. In this month’s episode of Jordan Uncorked, the question is not when to drink this vintage (it will live for decades). We want to see how this food-friendly red wine stands up to sugary desserts, which usually mute the wine’s flavors and accentuate the alcohol.

We also have a few questions for you. What do you think of Assistant Winemaker John Duckett as Kris Kringle and Associate Winemaker Maggie Kruse as Sugarplum Mary? Would you drink Jordan Cabernet with cookies? And most importantly, which vintages would you like our winemakers to uncork in the new year? Comment with your requests.

Happy Holidays!

Subscribe to our blog or YouTube channel for a monthly taste of “Jordan Uncorked.”

Charity Spotlight: The John Jordan Foundation Teachers’ Wishes Program

With constant budget cuts to public education, teachers increasingly find themselves wanting more than their paltry budgets can afford. In some classes, these educators wish for books. In others, the needs are more basic: pens, paper, maybe an overhead projector so students can follow a lesson.

Since 2012, the John Jordan Foundation (JJF) has sought to bridge some of these gaps with the Teachers’ Wishes initiative. The goal of the campaign is simple: To make wishes for certain teachers come true. Every September, teachers can submit applications to receive funding for one wish. In seven years, the foundation has funded a total of 725 grants.

The Teachers’ Wishes program set a new record in 2018. The foundation received 243 applications and distributed 120 fully funded grants. The remaining 123 teachers each received $20 gift cards to Office Depot. That means every applicant received funding of some kind. Though there have been years with more applications, 2018 was the largest number of wishes JJF fulfilled since the program’s inception.

All told, the applicant pool represented 106 schools across 30 districts in Sonoma County. According to Lisa Wittke Schaffner, executive director of the foundation, the breadth and depth of the application pool was a reminder that teachers are committed to doing their best. “Each year, Teacher’s Wishes reminds me of the creativity and desire of educators to provide an interactive and interesting environment for their students,” she said.

A handful of applications were particularly inspiring. Like the one from Santa Rosa City Schools, in which a teacher requested money to purchase more books to help students prepare for the ACT, SAT, and Advanced Placement exams, as well as books to help students write college essays. Or the application from a teacher in Sebastopol, who said her school’s campus is poorly landscaped and requested money to buy some trees.

“This grant program allows teachers to have a new teaching tool and purchase project supplies to get the kids excited about learning,” Wittke Schaffner said.

The Teachers’ Wishes program is an annual program, which means teachers can submit new applications to fund additional wishes as soon as September 2019. At a time when budgets are shrinking across public education, it’s great to be able to make some teachers’ wishes come true.

A significant portion of the proceeds from Jordan Winery fund the foundation, which works to fight the negative effects of poverty. Learn more at

Jordan Uncorked Video #20: 2001 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County

Curious how that bottle of 2001 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon in your cellar tastes right now? Kevin Bryant is, so we opened one in this month’s episode of Jordan Uncorked. Watch to find out if this aged red wine is ready to drink. We only have big bottles of the 2001 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon left in our cellar, starting at $289 for the magnum.

Which vintage would you like our winemakers to uncork next? Leave us a comment.

Subscribe to our blog or YouTube channel for a monthly taste of “Jordan Uncorked.”

Why 2018 is Going to Be an Incredible Vintage for Sonoma Wines

Mother Nature has a track record of rewarding grape farmers and winemakers the year after a challenging vintage, and we were hoping grape harvest history would repeat itself with an incredible vintage in 2018 to follow the extremely difficult 2017. (She blessed us with one of the best wine vintages of my career in 2012 after 2011 brought a hard reminder that nature does have a cycle.) It’s remarkable how similar the 2018 vintage is to 2012. If you loved the wines from Napa and Sonoma from what’s been called the “vintage of the century,” get ready for the next contender of space in your wine cellar. Looking back over the last eight months since bud break in the vineyards, there are four key factors that led to a phenomenal wine vintage for Sonoma County grapes in 2018. Watch all my 2018 harvest update videos on Facebook.

picking grapes during harvest Alexander Valley
The Munselle Vineyards picking crew harvests hillside cabernet sauvignon grapes for Jordan on October 11, 2018.

2018 Vintage Weather Returned to Normal

After years of drought, hot summers and early harvests, 2018 was the first vintage in recent memory that returned to what I call the “old normal.” The entire 2018 growing season was 3-4 weeks later than recent vintages. 2018 reminded me more of classic vintages from the 1990s when winter stayed cool with just enough rainfall and bud break in the vineyards occurred at a more typical time in late March. This set the pace for the grape growing season to continue progressing at a somewhat late yet normal pace. Very little rain or wind during the May flowering period let to a generous but not excessive cluster count. August felt like the old days—very foggy, cool mornings where the sun didn’t peek through the marine layer until lunchtime. The only real weather concerns of the entire vintage was a heat spike in June during fruit set and a little rain in late September. Fortunately, all of the thin-skinned chardonnay grapes were picked for Jordan before the rain, and cabernet sauvignon was born with a raincoat. We actually prefer a little rain between the white and red grape harvests to cleanse the Bordeaux variety grapes. The weather was glorious throughout October with cool, foggy mornings and sunny days.

malbec grapes on the vine in alexander valley
Malbec grapes ready for harvest on September 21, 2018.

The Grapes Were Small in Size

When fruit set occurred in June, the 2018 crop looked average in size, and I called it an “average but not great” crop size in my first Facebook Live growing season report of the vintage. I even said that 2018 clusters weren’t going to be as full as 2012 or even 2016. But as summer progressed, the clusters kept filling out beautifully, and there were many more berries per cluster than usual. This is what happened in 2012 as well. The similarities I found with the 2012 vintage and 2018 vintage gave me impetus for using the 2012 cluster weights in assessing the crop level for 2018. It is always a big guess as to how many tons per acre a block of grapes will produce. Experience certainly helps, but grower and winemaker are still more often wrong than right with their crop estimates. 2018 was no exception. As the cool weather prevailed through much of the summer, the vines kept drinking up the water from the irrigation and gleefully putting it in the clusters. Cluster sizes in many grower’s blocks were at a record high. As the vintage continued to fill our tanks in the fermentation room, totals from each block came in with similar yields as 2012. One grower of note set a record for his block at almost twice the normal yield.

merlot grapes hanging on the vine
Merlot grapes awaiting harvest at Munselle Vineyards on September 22, 2018.

2018 Will Be Remembered as the Ultimate Hang-Time Vintage

As previously mentioned, August was quite cool, and the heat spikes that the end of summer usually delivers never arrived in Sonoma. The days had such long, cool mornings and moderately warm afternoons in September that we called off all Jordan Chardonnay picks, giving the grapes increased time to hang and develop more intense flavors. With no threat of rain in the forecast in early or mid-September, winemakers had the luxury of letting all the grapes further mature as the varietal aroma, mid palate and depth of fruit concentrated. The gorgeous weather continued in October, when winemakers are usually worrying about fall rains and the vines beginning to shut down for the season. At the same time pumpkins were being harvested as Halloween décor, winemakers were able to work at a more relaxing pace, let fermentations progress naturally and wait to pick the grapes at just the right moment. This allowed the smaller berries of 2018 to develop a very intense level of dark fruit flavors and mature tannins in the red wine grapes and very bright, apple flavors in the chardonnay grapes. 2018 was the first vintage since 2010 that we were still harvesting grapes the morning of the Jordan Halloween party (October 20).

gondola full of cabernet grapes during harvest, jordan winery
The bountiful harvest continued through late October 2018 for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.

The 2018 Vintage Delivered High Quantity and High Quality Grapes

Both winegrower and winemaker are content with a bountiful harvest, but the winemaker alone is only content when the bountiful harvest means beautiful aromas, rich flavors and deep fruit character. We were both all smiles in September when the 2018 grape harvest began. It’s very rare that both of these things happen in concert—there’s usually some sort of issue with a little rain or a heat spike—but 2018, like 2012, is one of those phenomenal, special vintages were plentiful is the defining descriptor—lots of beautiful grapes with tremendous flavor concentration in the berries. Even though the berries were smaller, the weight of the clusters was record-breaking for cabernet sauvignon—about 0.4 pounds compared to the typical 0.25 to 0.30 pound per cluster of grapes. But the depth of flavor wasn’t impacted at all from the copious cluster weights. The blackberry and cassis flavors in the cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes are exceptional, and the natural grape tannins were ideal. Winemaking and grape growing are earth sciences, and we humbly yield to the variable nature of each vintage. After a difficult 2017 that was out of balance with excessive heat and small yields from every grower, we feel like we all deserved a generous harvest like 2018.

As the last tank is pressed, we sit back in our easy chair and start to doze off until the next harvest. Just kidding. With the “barn” full of race horses, our winemaking team will begin assembling the 2018 blend. Barrels from our friends in France begin to arrive and then we start the process of pumping out the 2017 vintage into barrels to make room for our new young child, the 2018. The cycle continues and the excitement of the new harvest inspires our senses as to how we will shape the new vintage to earn the name, Jordan.

View our full 2018 Grape Harvest photo album:
2018 Jordan Winery Grape Harvest

The 2018 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon will release in spring 2022, and the 2018 Jordan Chardonnay will release in spring 2020.

New Cooks in the Kitchen at Jordan Winery: Bring Your Appetite

There are some new faces in the Jordan Winery kitchen, and we want you to know a little more about the passionate culinary team that cooks the food pairings for our daily wine tastings and vineyard tours, as well as all the delicious hors d’oeuvres, entrees, salads, sides and desserts we serve at our winery dinner parties, private lunches and other meals. Executive Chef Todd Knoll is excited to welcome two new cooks to Jordan, both of whom already feel at home—thanks to their past freelance work at Jordan events.

Andy Cooper New Cook at Jordan Winery
Andrew Cooper near the Jordan Winery kitchen.

Meet Andrew Cooper, Jordan Winery Cook

Born and raised on the North Carolina coast, Andrew Cooper grew up surfing and fishing. After graduating from high school, he moved to Healdsburg for a summer to pursue his passion in the culinary arts, and the rest is history. He will assist our executive chef with Jordan Winery culinary events, private dinners and lunches, and other food and wine experiences at Jordan Estate.

Have you always enjoyed cooking?

Always—ever since I was old enough to hold a wooden spoon and stir the buttermilk in my Grandma’s biscuits.

Is there one a-ha moment where you realized you wanted to be a chef?

Yes. The first time I cooked dinner for my mother, and I smelled the onions browning in the butter, I knew I wanted to cook for a living.

Where else have you cooked?

I’ve worked in a few different places in wine country honing my skills, including Jackson Family Wine Center, Oakville Grocery, Dean & Deluca and Bohemian Grove.

What do you love most about cooking in wine country?

Access to the most diverse and fresh ingredients.

What’s your favorite dish to make?

Buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken. Or Southeastern-style BBQ.

If you could only have one ingredient, what would it be and why?

Salt, so food tastes like it should.

What are your two favorite dishes at Healdsburg restaurants?

Well, it’s a little outside of Healdsburg, but the Sonya pizza at Diavola in Geyserville is a must! Inside city limits, I would say the Molcajete at El Farolito.

How did you hear about the new culinary position at Jordan?

I helped out at Jordan culinary events many years ago, and Nitsa Knoll contacted me to see if I was interested in coming back.

Why did you decide to take the job at Jordan?

There is an amazing family vibe that is heartwarming and contagious. Also, the ability to learn and grow seems to be endless.

What are you most looking forward to about working in the Jordan kitchen?

Meeting all the staff and providing some of the best dishes in Sonoma County

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Fun things with my kiddos, from hiking, surfing and snowboarding to date nights at nice restaurants with my wife.

Any other skills we should know about?

After cooking for many years, I switched careers to winemaking in 2009. I worked for Paul Hobbs, Kunde and the Pisoni family crafting high-end wines.

Anything else you’d like our fans to know?

I recently took a couple years off work, so my wife could focus on her career, and I could spend some quality time with my children. It was the best and hardest thing I have ever done. This allowed my wife to earn a director of marketing position for Kendall-Jackson, and now, I am excited to be back in the kitchen full time.

Griselda Lopez, Jordan Winery Cook
Griselda Lopez in the Jordan Winery garden.

Meet Griselda Lopez, Jordan Winery Cook

Born and raised in Sonoma County wine country, Griselda Lopez joined Jordan full-time in July. She’ll be assisting our executive chef with prep at Jordan Winery dinners, lunches and other meals, as well as focusing on baking homemade pastries, cookies and other desserts.

Have you always enjoyed cooking?

Yes. I grew up in a family that loves to cook. Both of my parents are Mexican immigrants who are very good at cooking. I also have one sister and four older brothers who all love to be in the kitchen.

Is there one a-ha moment where you realized you wanted to be a chef?

That’s a tough question. I don’t think I ever imagined myself as a chef, but I always knew I wanted to cook. I’ve always felt that there is nothing more rewarding than being able to make someone happy through my cooking.

Where else have you worked in the kitchen?

Before joining Jordan full-time, I worked at Campo Fina in downtown Healdsburg. I started as a line cook in July 2015, making cold sides, salads and desserts and worked my way up the line to the pasta station. Technically, I started working at Jordan Vineyard & Winery about nine years ago as an on-call server and was eventually given the opportunity to assist in the kitchen for events.

What do you love most about being a chef in Sonoma wine country?

I love everything about it! If I had to choose one thing, I would have to say the local produce. We are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such giving soil, which helps us grow so many flavorful things, from the beautiful stone fruit in the fall to the sweet berries in summer.

What’s your favorite dish to cook?

Enchiladas Michoacanas. These enchiladas filled with smashed potatoes and carrots are very traditional to make in my family. We still enjoy cooking the staple dishes of our culture—posole, carnitas and birria—but Enchiladas Michoacanas are the one dish that takes me back to my parent’s table surrounded by my older siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles.

If you could only have one ingredient, what would it be and why?

Corn. You don’t need anything else to make it taste delicious. Throw one over hot fire, husk and all, and you have roasted corn on the cob or cut the corn off the cob and grind it into a mush, then use one of the corn husks as a wrap to make a quick and easy plain corn tamale.

What’s your favorite thing to eat out in Healdsburg?

My favorite would have to be the Sugo Calabrese Spaghettini from Campo Fina. Order it with extra cheese. You’ll love it.

How did you hear about the new culinary position at Jordan?

My cousin, Maribel Lopez Soto, is the director of Jordan Estate Rewards, and she called me as soon as she heard there was an opening. I jumped at the chance!

Why did you decide to take the job at Jordan?

Ever since I started working culinary events at Jordan, I have always loved coming to the winery. Jordan is a great place to work and offers many opportunities to learn and grow as an employee. One of the things that caught my attention is the fact that many of Jordan employees have been here for many years and that to me says a lot and makes me feel great about my choice to become part of the Jordan Winery family.

What are you most looking forward to about working in the Jordan kitchen?

I look forward to learning new skills and techniques from our talented Executive Chef Todd Knoll.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I love being able to enjoy time with my daughters, whether staying home and being lazy or taking them out for a treat.