Jordan wines

As Father’s Day approaches if father appreciates wine, perhaps a gift of a good bottle is in order. It might be his favorite wine if known, or because he is a special dad the occasion might call for  a more upscale bottle.  While a $1,000 bottle of a Bordeaux first growth may be totally out of the question, there are Bordeaux-style quality red wines to be had for a fraction of the cost.

A great example of such a wine is a cabernet by Jordan Winery located in the Alexander Valley of Sonoma County. At a retail price of $60, it falls in the affordable luxury category.

Why Jordan? Jordan is one of the oldest family owned wineries in California established in 1972 by Tom and Sally Jordan. Throughout the winery’s history, Jordan has focused on two varietals, chardonnay and cabernet-based, Bordeaux-style red wines.

While living in Colorado where Tom, a geologist, worked in oil and gas exploration, the Jordans longed to own a winery or a restaurant. They traveled often in France on what Sally calls restaurant-destination vacations and dreamed of purchasing a wine estate in France.  

One of their favorite stateside dining destinations was San Francisco and it was here they had a wine epiphany.

Avowed Francophiles, they always drank French wine but  one fortuitous night their sommelier persuaded the couple to try a Napa Valley Beaulieu Vineyard 1966 Georges de Latour. They were stunned by the quality of the wine and the epiphany for them was that this quality could be achieved in California.

They immediately set out to find a vineyard site, settling on 275 acres on the Alexander Valley floor where they planted cabernet and merlot vines. In 1974 they purchased 1,300 additional acres that today are home to the Jordan estate and its 58,000-square-foot winery and hospitality center.

In their effort to produce a California Bordeaux style they enlisted the help of  André Tchelistcheff, a Russian émigré who came to America in 1938 and is considered one of the founding fathers of the California wine industry. Tchelistcheff had   made their epiphany 1966 Georges de Latour wine.

Tchelistcheff was given free reign to fulfill the Jordans’ dream, “to produce an estate wine  in the European tradition.” Tchelistcheff was also charged with the responsibility of selecting a winemaker protégé that would ultimately assume all responsibility for winemaking.

In 1976 he hired Rob Davis, who had just graduated from the University of California, Davis, in viticulture. Davis remains the winemaker at Jordan.

Tom and Sally turned over full ownership of Jordan to their son John in 2007. Under his leadership the estate has achieved multiple certifications of sustainability by doing such things as installing solar panels to power the winery, substantially reducing its energy bill.

Jordan has won many accolades over the years including 2013 TripAdvisor Top 10 Winery Tours, Wine Enthusiast Magazine 2014 American Winery of the Year and Wine and Spirits Magazine most popular restaurant wine brand in  2015 and 2016.

Jordan wines have endured because Jordan focuses on what they do best: making cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay constantly tweaking wine production, whether it involves sourcing fruit for multiple sites or altering percentages of French versus American oak barrels.

Consider gifting the following wines, available exclusively in our area at Tyson’s Fine Wines and Things in Golden Springs.  

Jordan 2015 Russian River Valley Chardonnay. $35. Winemaker Davis says it would be hard to pick this bottle out as Californian in a lineup of White Burgundies and I agree with this assessment. Not a big buttery chardonnay but the antithesis. Bright lemon flavors. Clean and lean finish. Paired nicely with a mayonnaise based Gulf shrimp salad

Jordan 2013 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. $60. A big, tannic, fruity red. Very Bordeaux-like. Opened two hours before serving and allowed to rest in bottle. Poured into glasses 30 minutes ahead of consumption and it was still opening up in the glass as it was consumed.

Mark this one down for longevity. Dad will probably want to cellar this for a few years.

Contact Pat Kettles at