Since 2010, John Duckett has been juggling all the behind-the-scenes laboratory work at Jordan Winery as full-time enologist. Earlier this year, he was promoted to assistant winemaker. Here’s some background about John’s journey from competitive swimmer to winemaker. His complete biography can be found on our website.
After graduating from University of California at Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, John worked a summer internship at Jordan in 2009, after meeting Maggie Kruse (recently promoted to associate winemaker) at a UC-Davis Career Fair. They had hit it off, each having previously worked together at J Vineyards & Winery. Their bond eventually led to John’s full-time hiring at Jordan.
Born in Monterey, Calif., in 1987, John moved to Santa Monica with his parents, where his father finished a medical residency at UCLA. The family relocated to Santa Rosa in 1993, and John was thus exposed to winemaking and winegrowing in Sonoma County.
Initially, his lifestyle focus was on the outdoors and sports. “Our family would take frequent trips for skiing and snowboarding,” John recalls. “My freshman and sophomore years at Davis included working for the Vineman Triathalon. The course winds throughout wine country, so I was exposed to the beauty of the backroads and local wineries.”
A competitive swimmer in high school, John committed to joining the UC-Davis team in 2005. “However it wasn’t long after starting that I realized competitive swimming and exploring all that college had to offer didn’t go hand in hand,” he says. “I shelved my swimming career and focused on school and the overall college experience.”
John enrolled in a UC-Davis viticulture class taught by Dr. Larry Williams, and in summer 2006, took a job at Korbel Champagne Cellars in the Russian River Valley. “I spent the entire time there cleaning tanks and swapping out dump trucks for the endless stream of pomace coming from the presses,” he recalls. “It was all part of the process of becoming a winemaker.”
And a brewer, too. “I credit brewing, which I began during my time at Korbel, with my fascination for fermentation science,” John explains. “Although the processes for brewing beer and making wine differ, they are both connected by fermentation. I enrolled in as many wine classes as I could before officially making Viticulture and Enology my major at the end of my sophomore year.”
After a stint at Delegat’s Wine Estate in New Zealand, and another harvest at Jordan, John was hired as Enologist in 2010.
“I’m extremely lucky to work alongside Rob and Maggie,” he says. “There is only so much you can learn in the classroom; the rest is learned through experience. This is the continuation of my education, as wine and those who make it will continue to inspire me.”