Jordan Vineyard & Winery
In the 1960s Tom and Sally Jordan loved to visit gourmet
restaurants in the U.S. and Europe and invariably ordered French
wine, especially Bordeaux. A lot of California wine at that time was
sweet, and with first growth Bordeaux selling for less than $10/
bottle there was little incentive for wine lovers to hunt out the pio-
neers of European style Cabernet in California.
An epiphany occurred in 1972 on a visit to San Francisco
and dinner at Ernie’s Restaurant (closed in 1985). Tom asked the
sommelier what Bordeaux wine the restaurant had. He suggested
Jordan try a California Cabernet Sauvignon ‘very much in the Bor-
deaux style’. Jordan had heard this pitch before and demurred. The
smart sommelier got the sale however by essentially offering a
money back guarantee. If Jordan did not like the wine, for any rea-
son, he could return the open bottle at no charge.
He did not have to pay up on the wager: Jordan was blown
away by the wine, which turned out to be a 1968 Beaulieu Vine-
yards Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rutherford
area of Napa Valley. Oil and gas geologist Jordan’s dream of mak-
ing a Bordeaux style Cabernet wine in California could be realised.
He and Sally immediately started looking for suitable land for
a winery and vineyards. The site was ultimately not in Napa Valley,
because they thought the area (even in those days) too built up.
They preferred the bucolic rolling hills of Sonoma and purchased
1,300 acres in the Alexander Valley, a few minutes north of the
small town of Healdsburg.
They hired a winemaker named Rob Davis, who still makes
the wine today. Consulting winemaker was Russian emigrée and
California legend André Tchelistcheff. Not coincidentally, Tch-
elistcheff was the architect of the Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de
Latour Cabernet Sauvignon that set the Jordans down the path to
creating Jordan Vineyard and Winery.
1976 was the first vintage of the Jordan Alexander Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon but there was no more reason for Jordan to
be nationally known than there was for Beaulieu Vineyards. Poten-
tial customers could continue drinking Bordeaux.
WORDS Andrew Chalk