Known for its many experiences worthy of a spread in a glossy luxury magazine, Wine Country makes it hard to pick just one of them for a weekend (or weekday). However, the Estate Tour & Tasting at Jordan Winery in Healdsburg is an extremely strong contender.
Now back for the summer season, it consists of a three-hour, educational wine and food journey throughout a 1,200-acre estate.
“We wanted to get people outside. Food and wine is so much more fun when you can see where it came from,” said proprietor John Jordan.
The day begins with a Champagne continental breakfast — real French Champagne made for Jordan by AR Lenoble, not the customary California sparkling wine — in the courtyard of the winery’s ivy-clad, French-inspired chateau. After enjoying an array of delightful treats, including fresh baked pastries and a housemade scone (like lemon thyme and currant), raspberry buttermilk cake, fruit preserves, and fruit from the Jordan garden. Then take a quick, abridged winery tour, peeking in at the giant, 1976 oak tanks that are still in use today, before loading up into a stylish Mercedes sprinter van.
The estate is a great place to observe wild animals, like turkeys, jack rabbits, herons, parrots, and if you’re really lucky, Golden Eagles. The first stop is at the chef’s garden (but it might as well be called the Farm, because it’s huge). Say hello to Jordan’s resident donkeys, Goose and Maverick — they’re usually open to a few pets — the goats, and chickens, and then check out the apiary, where some of the bees go to work in a new beehive technology called the FlowHive.
Executive chef Todd Knoll, who has been with Jordan since 2003, grows literally everything he could ever need down to his own horseradish, stating, “When they say farm to table, I can actually do it.” Knoll has planted tons of exotic-sounding fruit trees, like Kadota and Brown Turkey figs, Asian pear, Fuyu persimmon, and Kaffir lime. He’s planted 28 varieties of tomatoes, plus garnishes, lettuces, and endless varieties of vegetables, from fava beans to heirloom corn. Before heading back to the van, there may be an opportunity to sample something straight out of the dirt. Take a quick pass by the floral garden, which boasts an impressive collection of David Austin roses.
It hasn’t been all that long since breakfast, but a food and wine pairing is on deck at the shore of a gorgeous lake. Taste both the current release and a library selection of Jordan’s Russian River Valley Chardonnay (2013 and 2016) along with two vegetarian bites: pickled vegetables and polenta topped with a candied cara cara orange and Humbolt Fog cheese. It’s also an opportunity for a taste of Jordan’s estate extra virgin olive oil, made from the 18 acres of olive trees planted nearby.
Walk some of it off during an educational stroll through the vineyards at Creekside Landing, and learn about the lifecycle of the vineyard and the current stage of the growing season. Tip: Book a tour during harvest season to taste the grapes and take a look at how the vineyards are maintained.
The tour finishes on a literal high note. The van will climb 650 feet up to what’s appropriately named Vista Point. With 360-degree, panoramic mountain views, three different wine AVA’s (American Viticulture Regions) are visible. A seated, light lunch is served within an indoor/outdoor glass-walled pavilion.
Start with a mizuna salad with a honey miso vinaigrette, an assortment of local cheeses, and a sweet sampling of Jordan’s estate honeycomb served inside a custom-made, wooden bento box. Then for the main, Knights Valley Black Angus beef roasted in horseradish leaves with an eggplant tapenade awaits in a mini cocotte. Enjoy it all alongside two vintages of Jordan’s Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon: the 2005 (a real treat) and the current 2014 release.
The Jordan Estate Tour ($125 per person) is available Thursday-Monday, starting at 9:45 a.m., May-October.