John Jordan, CEO over his family winery, wants visitors to the Jordan Winery in Sonoma County to have sensory experiences. He wants visitors to taste his Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon breathing fresh Sonoma air overlooking the 1200 acre property in a tasting room set up at the highest property elevation. Or to sip his Russian River Chardonnay while strolling through vineyards and olive groves tasting their small production, peppery olive oil. He wants guests to join him for a fishing experience in his well stocked bass pond, or for a walk around the one acre garden nestled just under the winery tasting fruit off of apple and peach trees or picking ripe heirloom tomatoes.
Last year the winery introduced their Jordan Winery Estate Tour to make some of these experiences a reality for guests to the winery. The three hour experience gives visitors a taste of these sensory experiences, fulfilling a goal that Jordan had when he took over running the winery from his father almost a decade ago. I had a chance to see some of what the tour was going to become last year just before it launched last summer.
I visited again recently, as a guest of the winery, now in a fully operational state, while also dining at Dry Creek Kitchen inside Hotel Healdsburg. The whole experience was introduced in June, allowing guests a luxury stay at the hotel, the Jordan Estate Tour, and a Farm to Fork dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen created in conjunction with Jordan by DCK Chef Dustin Valette, utilizing produce from the Jordan garden creating a unique wine country dinner.
Started in the early 1970′s by John Jordan’s parents, Tom and Sally, who wanted a property that they could live on that would look down onto valley floor vineyards, much like many of the French wineries they had fallen in love with. They wanted to create a winery with sophistication and elegance, French inspired…yet also, very Californian. As they began to grow, building their French chateau inspired winery in 1974, they also started to plant hillside fruit in Alexander Valley, finding the characteristics of this hillside fruit suited their palates more than the valley floor fruit.
They also hired consulting enologist, Napa Valley wine icon, André Tchelistcheff, to work with them on making balanced, Bordeaux inspired Cabernet Sauvignon, fully recognizing the quality and potential for their Alexander Valley estate. Under his direction they also hired young winemaker, Rob Davis, in 1976, who has successfully guided the winemaking for almost 40 years.
When John took over from his father they expanded to include more and more vineyards outside of their property, sourcing all of their Chardonnay fruit from Russian River and buying Cabernet Sauvignon or other blending varieties to create the best wine they could for their Jordan label while maintaining the well known, high quality consistency the label has become known for.
Sonoma is inherently a little bit more laid back than their famous friend on the other side of the Mayacamus Mountains, but this laid back attitude is what draws people to Sonoma, looking for a little bit easier lifestyle and routine. This also describes John Jordan, who knew that he always wanted guests to have the elegant experiences the winery has become known for, like their library tastings and pairings, but also something a bit more casual, and unique.
But don’t worry….this 3 hour Estate tour is completely first class, traveling to remote areas throughout property in a Jordan outfitted, luxury Airstream, sipping current release and library wines from Riedel glassware, and snacking on whimsical, garden inspired creations from Chef de Cuisine Todd Knoll. Three hours may seem like a lot of time, but the time flies by as each stop on the tour allows for ample time to relax with a glass by the bass pond, watching egrets dive for fish in the sky blue pond, or strolling walk through the gardens at your own pace tasting fresh beans and ripe strawberries at will, or sipping barrel samples of Cabernet amongst the vines.
The meal at Dry Creek Kitchen has a similar relaxed yet elegant feel, pairing Jordan wines with local seafood, meat and produce, created with ease by the skilled hands of Chef Dustin Valette. A simple seared scallop under an elaborate puffed dome of pasty is enhanced with a creamy, Pernod and caviar beurre blanc, balancing the crisp citrus filled acidity in the 2012 Jordan Chardonnay while marrying with the creamy, spice and stone fruit notes. Seared medium rare strip steak paired with blue cheese “tater tots” enhances the earthy, spice notes of the 2010 Cabernet. The pairings were not uncommon, but perfectly executed, which like the consistency and quality in the Jordan wine, lends itself to a very successful pairing and evening. A glass of J Cuvee 20 sparkling wine from John Jordan’s sister, Judy Jordan’s J Vineyards & Winery, starts the meal preparing the palate with light crispness, enhancing the flavors of a lightly seared butterfish with avocado and wasabi. Grassy, peppery Jordan Olive Oil enhances the sweetness of Olive Oil Ice Cream with Strawberry Panna Cotta for dessert.
The “Farm to Fork” packages are just getting underway at Hotel Healdsburg with Dry Creek Kitchen, as summer produce is just starting to come in from the Jordan garden. Jordan hosts their Estate Wine Tour Thursday- Sunday from March-October, starting at 10am and can accommodate 12 guests per tour for $120 each. Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon ($55) and Chardonnay ($35) are both available locally at Pogo’s.