Judy Jordan is the Founder and President of J Vineyards & Winery and is a second generation vintner (Jordan Vineyard & Winery). Judy has spent the past 25 years building J Vineyards & Winery and her signature J vintage and non-vintage sparkling wines have put her on the map; Jordan’s terroir-driven Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay are solidifying her wine status even further. J Vineyards & Winery is independently owned and located in Sonoma County. All of the wines are produced from estate grown grapes farmed primarily within Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley appellation. J Wines range in price from $16-$75
Judy’s parents, Tom and Sally Jordan have been significant role models and mentors to Judy who helped her start her career and impressioned much elegance, style and social etiquette upon her which continues to inspire Judy’s gracious hospitality. This grace and style is very apparent at J Vineyards & Winery Visitor Center & Bubble Room.
To create a showplace home for her wines, in 1996, Judy purchased the former Piper Sonoma winemaking facility in Healdsburg, located in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Judy was one of the first, if not the first, to forge the wine country’s food and wine experience for visitors. J’s tasting room, opened in 1999 and incorporated bite sized fare to complement each wine which illustrated how wine pairs with cuisine. The award winning J Vineyards & Winery Visitor Center & Bubble Room is the choice for many seeking a luxury Wine Country experience. Judy’s success and continuing legacy is mapped from her footprints of family tradition; J Vineyards & Winery honors elegance and excellence, very much like its Founder. I present this week’s vintner in the spotlight, Judy Jordan
South Florida Food and Wine: What made you branch out from the family’s wine business–Jordan Winery—and go on to build your own brand?
Judy Jordan: I suppose it was youthful exuberance and a yearning to create a distinctly all-American version of French Champagne. I spent some time in France and believed we could produce a wine that was every bit as elegant. After searching the West Coast, I chose pinot noir and chardonnay grapes from a relatively unknown region of Sonoma County–the Russian River Valley.
South Florida Food and Wine: After 25+ years of building J Vineyards & Winery, what is your single most proud accomplishment?
Judy Jordan: Well, my two greatest accomplishments are my children, Nicole and Robert Thomas. Juggling a successful wine business and raising two children as a single mom has been no small challenge. But my single most proud accomplishment would have to be creating a luxury-tier, wine business that has earned world-wide recognition.
South Florida Food and Wine: Tell us about the different wines within the J portfolio, [styles and how many]
Judy Jordan: We are really two wineries under one roof and one goal of making world-class wine. We produce four different versions of sparkling wine and 14 different varietal wines—pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris. The grapes for these wines come from our own Estate vineyards, primarily within the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most memorable wine you’ve had to date? and why?
Judy Jordan: I recently pulled a bottle of our 1987 J Vintage Brut out of the cellar. This was our very first release at J, and tasting the wine took me back to 1991. We had 4,000 cases and it all sold in six months. That is when I knew…..J was on its way.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about being a vintner/entrepreneur?
Judy Jordan: My biggest challenge as a vintner is staying current with technology. Leveraging Social Media to be on the cutting edge of marketing, is very important in the fine wine world. The digital divide is shrinking and at J we are using Facebook and Twitter to promote our wines. It’s about building a bridge that generates interest, credibility and solid relationships. The ongoing challenge is always being mindful of quality, quality, quality.
South Florida Food and Wine: Where can J wines be purchased?
Judy Jordan: J sparkling and varietal wines can be found in most major cities throughout the United States, though a good portion of our wine is sold in California. When I travel, I am always thrilled to see J on a restaurant wine list. But because we are a relatively small wine producer, we obviously can’t be everywhere.
South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you would love to share a bottle of your wine with and why?
Judy Jordan: Lew Platt, the CEO at Hewlett-Packard, was a mentor to me. Though he passed away in 2005, I think about his wisdom and guidance every day. I’d love to be able to show him our latest collection of J Russian River Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir wines. There are now eight of them, and I know he would be very proud.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your wine and meal be?
Judy Jordan: I love western-style sushi, so I would have to say a nice bottle of J Vintage 2005 Brut paired with a selection of sushi.
South Florida Food and Wine: What was the last restaurant you ate at and did you order your wine?
Judy Jordan: I recently dined at Elway’s in Denver, Colorado with my family. We ordered a bottle of J Vintage Brut for the table and found it to be extraordinary.in honor of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos!
South Florida Food and Wine: Other than your own wine, what is your quaff of choice?
Judy Jordan: I know my brother will shoot me if I don’t say Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, so I will. I have also recently enjoyed a bottle of the 2009 Hanzell Chardonnay…..delicious
J Vineyards & Winery 11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, CA 95448
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