When Judy Jordan launched J. Vineyards and Winery in 1986, she was 25 years old. A Stanford University grad and geologist with a passion for California winemaking, she recalls having a strong network of mentors such as her father, Tom Jordan, founder of Jordan Vineyards in Healdsburg and the legendary André Tchelistcheff, consulting winemaker at the winery. She says that many of the people in her network were men: “I met many fabulous men that helped me along the way, but I regret that I didn’t have any women as mentors.”
Having sold J. Vineyards and Winery to E. & J. Gallo in 2015, Jordan realized an opportunity to give back to the wine community through her non-profit endeavor WG Edge, which supports young women entering the agriculture industry by providing mentors, scholarships and other resources. Currently the program has nine participants, and Jordan plans to “ace this tiny program and then do it again.” In other words, the concept is scalable.
“This is in gratitude to the agricultural families, our way to say thank you to them,” says Jordan. “It takes a village, a homegrown, local project, to help open doors and advance the young women in our project. To lead, and keep our region vibrant.”
To generate funding, she simultaneously founded Geodesy Wine, which transfers all profits to WG Edge. Jordan chose winemaker Megan Baccitich as a partner to produce Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a red blend from three heritage vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and California’s Napa Valley. “I feel so blessed to have met Megan,” says Jordan. “We are both now at a place in our careers where we are willing to take chances.”
Baccitich, who previously worked with Paul Hobbs as director of winemaking, says that “creativity is definitely important.” Translating Russian River Valley expertise to Oregon, she felt like a “kid in a candy store” with fresh options and perspective from the Oregon winemaking community.
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“Hey, it’s a fresh palette,” says Jordan. “A fresh palette of paint that we get to make together.”
The new palette includes Chehalem Mountain Vineyard and Eola Springs Vineyard, both in the Willamette Valley, along with Sage Ridge Vineyard in the Napa Valley. “No matter where you are, when you step into a new site, you need fresh eyes and to be aware of your own creative energy,” says Baccitich.
Eola Springs Vineyard has own-rooted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Muscat and Pinot Gris, planted in 1972 by Carl Stevens. Soils include Windygap, Saum, Nekia, Ritner, Gelderman and Goodin. The site provides “beautiful salinity, tactile and emotional,” according to Baccitich.
Chehalem Mountain Vineyard was planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the late 60s, by industry pioneer Dick Erath, also own-rooted. “The geologic episodes have created a soil base that honors its diverse and extreme volcanism, subduction, glaciation and marine deposits,” according to the Geodesy website. Baccitich says this site has a “deep dark forest quality.”
Sage Ridge Vineyard is a mountainous site, a patchwork of steep, mainly high elevation Cabernet Sauvignon. The primary soil classifications are Bresse-Dibble complex, Maymen-Millshom-Lodo association, Shale & Sandstone rock outcrop and Sobrante loam. (Again, according to the highly-tuned-to-geology Geodesy website.)
Jordan recalls that she’s worked with 26 vineyards in her career—she calls Sage Ridge “the most challenging and brilliant” that she’s experienced. Baccitich agrees: “This Napa vineyard has taken us to our knees.”
“I’m a geologist and one of the exciting things from my perspective is the geology and terroir,” says Jordan of these three spaces. She purchased the trio of vineyards for Geodesy, which is decidedly small production, around 1,000 cases per year. “We wanted to test ourselves, push ourselves out of our comfort zone. For us to go into Oregon it’s a big adventure, a rodeo.”
Also on the Geodesy team are general manager Kathryn Lindstrom, vice president of winegrowing Scott Zapotocky and asset manager Krishna Hendrickson, a group of professionals that work together to make “wine with a purpose,” especially this year. “All of us are going through this together,” says Jordan. “Thank goodness we are resilient.”
Wines to Try
2018 Chehalem Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir
2016 Eola Springs Vineyard Chardonnay
2016 Sage Ridge Vineyard Red Wine