As much as I enjoy the change of seasons in California, I am always sad to see summer slip into fall. Denial of the inevitable works for a while, then mornings are too damp and cool to ignore and I simply must accept the fact that summer is gone. Anticipating a new vintage of wine helps with the transition, though, and so does harvest lunch at Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg.
Harvest Lunches have become an annual affair for Jordan Winery. The lunches celebrate the harvest, in the vineyards and in the garden, with a family-style luncheon for vineyard and winery staff, guests and Jordan Estate Rewards members. The buffet-style menu changes daily and is always accompanied by the current release Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition, a Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from the library is poured.
Lunch Begins with Champagne
Our harvest lunch experience began in the tree-shaded Baccus Court at the front of the winery where we enjoyed a glass of Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble. The Jordan Cuvée represents a partnership between two families, the Jordans and Malassagnes, both of whom are keenly focused on quality winemaking.
A glass of champagne is the perfect way to welcome guests for lunch and for the group to get to know each other. We met visitors from Florida and Modesto. The biggest surprise of all was that one of the guests from Modesto was someone I went to high school with. Yes, really!
We continued sipping champagne as walked around to the back of the winery chateau past its vine-covered walls, through the shade of sycamore trees and past the oak-shaded patio. Our final destination was the outdoor dining room, which at other times of the year serves as a place for barrel washing.
The shaded area is surrounded by greenery and set with long, family-style tables. The tables are always beautifully set. This year the white tablecloths were set with boxes of succulents, blue-gray plates, matching flatware and blue gingham napkins. Beside the line of wineglasses a beautiful blue water glass finished the setting.
The buffet menu for Wednesday, September 12:
Grilled Chicken Piccata
Wild Rice, Broccolini
Heirloom Tomatoes with Garden Basil and Burrata
The meal was delicious and paired beautifully with the Jordan wines. The 2016 Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay was bright with fruit flavors of pear and ripe apples along with juicy acidity. The 2014 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon had a bit of grip and complex, dark fruit flavors. The 2012 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet showed elegant tannins and flavors with hints of leather. Don’t ask me choose a favorite.
Harvest lunches at Jordan Vineyard & Winery started this week and continue weekdays through October 5. You will find daily menus on the Jordan website as well as all of the necessary details to plan a visit.
A Detour into the Garden
Over the past few years we have watched the vegetable garden at Jordan grow and mature. Every time we visit Jordan I head to the back of the chateau for a view of the garden below. This year we walked down into the garden with Lisa Mattson, Director of Marketing & Communications, and her canine pal, Dante.
Apple, fig and persimmon trees are heavily laden with fruit. Pumpkins, tomatoes of all colors, and a wide variety of flowers are thriving. Flowers and native plants have been planted to attract butterflies and for the bees. The apiary includes several Flow™ hives and traditional bee hives. Both are thriving.
Replanting of Estate Vineyards
As we looked beyond the garden, Lisa pointed out several vineyard blocks that have been removed. Beginning in 2015 John Jordan began what is expected to be an eight-year project of replanting the estate vineyards. Replanting is necessary because of a decrease in production due to age and because of Red Blotch disease. Perhaps half of the vineyard acreage has been cleared and a portion of that acreage has been replanted so far.
A six-acre block, the Chateau Block, represents a new planting of what was formerly an overflow parking lot in front of the chateau. Soil testing revealed this plot to be perfectly suited for Cabernet Sauvignon. A happy discovery. You can follow the replanting process on the Journey of Jordan blog.
Jordan Vineyard & Winery makes only two wines every year and every year they are stellar. It is quality you can count on. Jordan Chardonnay frequently accompanies our meals, especially during summer, and somehow we never keep any back to age.
We have made more of an effort, though, to hold past vintages of Jordan Cabernet. We made a quick stop before leaving to purchase more Chardonnay and a missing vintage to fill in a 10-year vertical of Cabernet Sauvignon. I see a wine dinner with friends, many friends, in our future!