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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.

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Grape Veraison Photography Gallery


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.

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.

Jordan Uncorked Video #19: 2013 Jordan Russian River Chardonnay

Many wine drinkers don’t think of California chardonnay as a wine that can be aged. And while the bigger, buttery and higher-alcohol chardonnays do tend to fade within a few years, quality California chardonnays of balance with firm acidity can live for almost a decade. Acidity is the spine of the wine. Sometimes, our winemaker even calls it the soul of the wine. This month’s episode of Jordan Uncorked features a five-year-old Jordan Chardonnay requested by one of our fans. The 2013 Jordan Chardonnay tastes so young, we’re featuring it at more wine tastings and dinners. Thanks for the suggestion.

Learn more about the 2013 Jordan Russian River Chardonnay.

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

Halloween Video Views Fundraiser for ROC Sonoma County

UPDATE: Our deadline to watch this video has been extended to November 15, 2018.

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

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 #18: 1989 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

It’s a real treat when one of our fans requests an old bottle of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon to taste on Jordan Uncorked. Luckily, we were able to find this bottle at auction for our winemakers to open and share their tasting notes for those who own bottles of 1989 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon or have interest birth year wines from this vintage. Watch our video to learn when to drink this aged red wine.

Learn more about the 1989 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. Magnums of this wine are currently available for $400. Please email us to inquire about current stock.

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