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Jordan Winery Introduces Estate Garden Plate, Handmade Clay Pottery

NBC Pottery Jordan Garden Plate beauty shot of food

At Jordan, we have long embraced the farm-to-table ethos, incorporating estate-grown produce, herbs and olive oil into its culinary hospitality and guest experiences. This year, we are taking the concept of terroir a step further with Jordan Garden Plates, custom, handmade clay pottery that features clay from Jordan’s Alexander Valley estate. The one-of-a-kind plates were created in collaboration with Napa Valley-based NBC Pottery, renowned for the rustic yet handmade pottery it crafts for luxury hotels and Michelin three-star restaurants.

Todd and Nitsa Knoll Jordan Winery
Todd and Nitsa Knoll in the Jordan Winery garden

The project was born after Todd Knoll, Jordan Winery’s executive chef, and his wife, Nitsa, who serves as Jordan’s director of hospitality and events, spent a few years getting to know NBC Pottery owners, Nikki and Will Callnan, at their annual open house studio event. The two couples discovered kindred creative spirits and philosophies, and the Knolls approached the Callnans in 2018 about working together.

Nikki and Will Callhan, NBC Pottery
Nikki and Will Callhan at their studio.

“I wanted a locally made piece that was the ultimate expression of our terroir,” Chef Knoll said. “I couldn’t think of any culinary experience more connected to the land than eating vegetables from Jordan’s garden on a plate that was made from clay in which those ingredients were grown.”

pottery making at NBC Pottery Napa
Nikki cuts around the mold of the Jordan Garden Plate.

Nikki created a custom mold with curved edges for the rectangular Jordan Garden Plate, sized to fit into a custom bento box Chef Knoll had made for the final food pairing served on Jordan’s Estate Tour & Tasting, a moveable culinary excursion with four destinations across our nearly 1,200-acre estate. The cleaned Jordan clay was applied as an iron-rich, decorative slip to the hand-modeled stoneware clay form before glazing. After the initial bisque-firing, the plate was glazed and fired with a brown glaze that interacted in complement to the saturated slip surface. The resulting plates feature graceful, curved corners and a lush, brown, color glaze with a crystal satin finish.

NBC Pottery Jordan Garden Plate, hands holding ceramics
The Jordan Garden Plate, handmade clay pottery by NBC Pottery

“What’s great about this project is that between the design and the composition of the natural elements, every piece is slightly different,” said Nikki, whose pottery pieces grace the tables of some of Napa Valley’s finest restaurants, such as The French Laundry, The Restaurant at Meadowood and The Charter Oak. “I like to think of them as fingerprints, each with their own unique signature.”

clay samples for pottery Jordan Winery
Clay samples from Jordan Estate collected to determine which would be best for pottery making.

It takes a particular type of clay to produce artisan ceramics, and there was no guarantee that the varieties found on Jordan Estate would be suitable for the project. After hiking across the property and digging up clay samples from three different locations, Todd and Will found what they were looking for, ironically, near a greenhouse in Jordan’s garden.

Will and Nikki Callhan, NBC Pottery
Will and Nikki making Jordan Winery plates in their studio.

With only 80 created, each piece is its own expression of the estate’s unique soil composition. “It is exciting to see how the clay, once cleaned and processed, reacts through the firings and glazing,” Will said. “Sourcing the clay for a project from a specific terroir builds a story around the pottery and creates a deeper connection. It makes a memory between the piece and its origin.”

NBC Pottery Jordan Garden Plate
The bottom of each plate carries both logos.

The Jordan Garden Plate is featured on Jordan’s Estate Tour & Tasting and also makes appearances during Private Tables and Culinary Events in the Jordan dining room. The handmade clay pottery pieces will be available for sale at the winery, or buy online for $100.

NBC Pottery Jordan Garden Plate, chef holding plate of food
Chef Todd Knoll presents a formal lunch course on the Jordan Garden Plate.
Lisa Mattson

Videographer, photographer, writer and publicist. Find me on weekends trying to capture footage of the elusive Jordan Estate jack rabbits and turkeys.

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