Thursday, October 3, 2013

Harvest Lunch at Jordan Winery

If you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram, you know that I recently spent some time in Napa and Sonoma Valleys. After an amazing trip to Napa Valley last year I was eager to go back, so when one of Nick's college friends suggested a trip with a third couple, we were all in. Something about this trip makes it so easy to relax. From the moment I land in San Francisco, I am able to just shut off work and enjoy - there is no winding down necessary.

Needless to say, I will have a bunch of posts coming in the next few weeks on the vineyards we visited. We decided to split up the trip so that each couple was responsible for one day of planning, including which vineyards to visit and where to eat - don't worry, there was a Google document so that there was no overlap! Since there were 6 of us, we rented a house in Glen Ellen, which was a fantastic way to spend a long weekend. That, and we spent evenings soaking in the hot tub and eating home cooked meals on the outdoor patio. While there will be no big restaurant reviews from this trip, we did have some fun lunches on Sonoma Square and at the Oxbow Public Market.

Additionally, we were able to take advantage of a fantastic opportunity through Jordan Winery. After writing about my last trip to California wine country, Jordan contacted me and said if I was ever back out there to let them know and they would set up a tasting. Thankful for this kind offer, the moment we had the dates planned for this trip I emailed Jordan asking about a visit. Not only did we visit, but we got to enjoy their Harvest Lunch on the lawn in front of the chateau! Traditionally this lunch is reserved for those who have enough Jordan Reward Points for the experience.

Before we get too deep into the lunch, a little more about Jordan in general. Located in Healdsburg, the more northern part of Sonoma, it's located on 1200 acres of beautiful land. The Jordan family purchased the land in the 70's after a desire to make wine in the States like they had been enjoying from France for many years (spoiler alert: they succeeded!). From the outset, Jordan has only produced two wines - a cabernet and chardonnay - because they want to pour all their focus and skill into the two wines and ensure the consistency and quality from bottle to bottle and year to year.

Jordan is right off of Dry Creek Road, and once you turn onto their access road you feel like you have entered into a different world. Only a portion of their land is covered with grape vines, so there are tons of heavily wooded areas and farm land. The views as you climb the hill to the main chateau are spectacular. Looking out over the property from the front lawn is breathtaking.

Upon our arrival for lunch we entered the main tasting area but were then pointed toward the front lawn where a few tables were set up for the lunch guests. Harvest lunch is offered on Mondays only during the harvest. The lunch is not only for those in the Rewards program, but also for all the people working the harvest itself. I thought that was such a nice touch!

After sitting down and enjoying a glass of water, the vintages (2009 cab and 2011 chardonnay) currently for sale in a store near you were poured for our enjoyment. I thought both were nicely complex but also smooth and easy to drink. The official tasting notes for the cab are: "visually stunning with a deep garnet-ruby hue, this wine possesses an unprecedented elegance of fruit expression, lively acidity, tannin structure and oak integration. Aromas of blackberry, black cherry and cassis are supported by subtle hints of baking spice and vanilla from oak aging. The mouthfeel is soft, silky and robing with a seemingly neverending finish. Enjoy now or cellar through 2025. Decant prior to serving to further accentuate the aromas and flavors." For the Chardonnay we were told: "the 2011 Chardonnay is an elegant expression of a vintage that wanted anything but to be tamed. Aromas of freshly cut Fuji and Granny Smith apples, stone fruits and white flowers lead to vibrant minerality and bright fruit flavors. The creamy mid-palate is framed by well-integrated French oak and lively acidity that carry through to a refreshingly long finish." Much better said than me!

After enjoying some wine, we were welcomed back to a buffet table that had an amazing spread, including a cabbage salad with a cilantro vinaigrette; whole pinto beans; and a spinach, cranberry and almond salad in a citrus vinaigrette.  

A portion of the amazing spread
Pork Chili and Chili Rojo Tamales
Mexican Rice
Jordan Haricots Verts with Jordan Figs and Shallots in a Sherry Vinaigrette
Jordan Heirloom Tomatoes with Jordan Extra Virgin Olive Oil, African Basil and Sel Gris
Fresh Fruit Salad with melon, berries, pineapple and mint
Before making my plate I spotted a very cute dog sitting by his owner, so I walked up and asked to photograph and pet him (look at that face!). The owner was very obliging in my requests and then I left to eat. Only after lunch and during a brief tour did I find out the person I was asking was John Jordan himself! I was slightly embarrassed to say the least! Nimitz was super friendly and so sweet. His friend Bismarck was always close by.

Lunch could not have been more lovely. The food was outstanding - the Pork Tamales were some of the best I have ever eaten. Jordan's own heirloom tomatoes for the salad were a major standout for the tomato-lovers of the group. The colors on the plate were so beautiful. My favorite, beside the tamales, were the haricot verts.  he beans were so fresh and the the dressing was light but flavorful. I am hoping to try and make something like this at home. One of the waiters gave me a brief explanation of how to make the salad, so maybe you'll see a future post about them!

While Jordan just started an extensive Estate Tour and Tasting Experience, we did not have enough time do it all. Instead, after our leisurely lunch, we walked up to the top of the of the hill behind the chateau that is lined with solar panels due to the recent effort to drastically reduce their energy consumption. Along the way of the hill the views were amazing.

Jordan's farm with some of their very own cows!

After coming back to the front lawn, we were steered into the chateau itself and saw some of the entertaining spaces and learned that Rewards members can also use their points to spend the night in the vineyard! How fun!

A brief walk through the barrel room - yes they still use these wooden barrels instead of the stainless ones...

The vineyard told us that the vintages we had during lunch were for sale locally (i.e. MA) and suggested that we look into the 2003 cabernet. Since we were not doing the tasting she offered to bring me up to the library room where they do the tastings so I could try a glass!

Library Tasting Room

Of course, the 2003 was delicious - here are the official tasting notes: "This vintage has well-integrated flavors, deep color and a full mouthfeel. The vibrant blueberry qualities of Petit Verdot marry well with the soft, alluring flavors of Merlot and contribute to the complexity of the masculine, tannic nature of the Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has very rich texture with opulent flavors, a restrained oak framework and a lingering nish of subtle earth, cigar tobacco and cedar."

As you can see, we had a special experience at Jordan. Rather than doing the traditional wine club, Jordan offers a rewards program, and for every bottle you buy you get a certain number of points that you can redeem for different experiences like the Harvest lunch.

Even if you cannot attend a lunch, Jordan is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in northern California wine country. Be sure to make a reservation for tasting as space is limited and the slots fill up fast. If you have tasted their wine, you know why!

Disclaimer - the Harvest lunch was complementary, but my thoughts and opinions on the experience are my own.


  1. You're killing me here. I want to go back!! We actually received a bottle of Jordan wine as a wedding gift, so now I am even more excited to open it!

  2. What an awesome experience! I would love to do a lunch at a winery like that. So glad you enjoyed it!

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