At age 25, after graduating from Stanford University, Judy Jordan launched J Vineyards with some help from her father, Tom, founder of Jordan Vineyard and Winery. Beginning as an early Sonoma County sparkling wine producer, Jordan spent nearly 30 years building the impressive J Vineyards portfolio before selling to the EJ Gallo Company in 2015. Among her many mentors, she regrets that none, during the 1980s, were women.
After the sale, Jordan was in a position to enjoy the fruits of her labor, but chose a pursuit with purpose. Rooted in gratitude for all that the wine industry had given her, she formed WG Edge (Women Gaining an Edge) to grow the next generation of women in agriculture through a “village” of teachers, mentors and sponsors. Beginning in 2019, the initial group, including many women of color, are gaining leadership development through a local college and various community mentors.
With a philanthropic spirit and keen business mind, Jordan established Geodesy (G-Odyessy) wines and directs 100 percent of the profits to fund WG Edge. The business of Geodesy began after she and her team acquired iconic vineyards like Sage Ridge in the Napa Valley and Oregon’s Chehalem Mountain and Eola Springs. In part, she chose Oregon in an effort to get out of her comfort zone. She now owns all three vineyards and produces enough fruit to source out to other winemakers.
Jordan has assembled a team that includes, among others, winemaker Megan Baccitich, who worked at Paul Hobbs for more than a decade, and vice president of Winegrowing, Scott Zapotocky, a veteran of both Paul Hobbs and J Vineyards. Together, they strive to set the highest standard with their three wine releases.
Using vines planted in 1972, Baccitich sees age as a factor in the salinity and bright acidity of the 2018 Geodesy Eola Springs Vineyard Chardonnay ($75). She explained that daytime temperatures remain higher in Oregon and the evenings don’t cool like the Russian River Valley. The result, in her words, are “sun-kissed phenolics.”
From vines planted in the late-1960s by Oregon wine legend Dick Erath, the 2018 Geodesy Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountain Vineyard ($80) comes from three different clones that are harvested the same day, whole-cluster pressed and co-fermented in open top concrete fermenters. Jordan spoke of a balanced acidity in this vintage with fleshy fruit flavors of cherry and spice throughout.
Despite steep, rugged terrain and an abundance of rattlesnakes, Baccitich referred to the elevated Sage Ridge Vineyard, located above the Napa Valley, as the most dynamic site she has ever worked with. At J Vineyards, Judy worked with 26 different vineyards and described Sage Ridge as her all-time favorite.
A cabernet sauvignon-dominant blend that pays homage to the site, the 2017 Geodesy Sage Ridge Vineyard Red Wine ($175), is aged 20 months in 100 percent French oak to produce red fruit and floral aromas, soft tannins and complex flavors indicative of a classic wine.
Geodesy provides an opportunity to give back, enjoy special wines and support young women pursuing careers in agriculture.
The views expressed in this column are those of Lyle W. Norton.