Am I a lucky lady, or what?
A few weeks ago, I was invited (for the second time) to Jordan Winery in Healdsburg, CA. This time it was to experience their estate tour.
A grapey aroma permeated the air, as I was escorted to the guest house the evening before the tour.
"Yes" said the escort, "it's crushing season. There's lots of activity here now."
"The first shift of workers arrives very early to meet the first truck of grapes, about 5 A.M."
"So the grapes are picked at night" I ask.
"The picking begins at about 11 P.M., and goes straight through the night, for both the sake of the grapes and of the workers. The kitchen serves 3 meals a day here, to suit the workers. Depending on their schedules, the staff here is served either breakfast, lunch and/or dinner."
And this time of year, there's a harvest lunch open to the public, to which I am also invited.
It was the smell of yeast that greeted me when I opened the windows later that evening - the smell of fermentation.
After the lovely continental breakfast brought to my room, I join several others for the tour. Although it was sunny and warm - in the low 80's - when I arrived the afternoon before, the morning is socked in with heavy fog. Good for the grapes, though, right? That's precisely what makes this a great wine area.
We climbed into the Sprinter van, and started our day (guided by the lovely Claire), first to visit the estate's animals, and then the gardens. Being the Southerner at heart that I am, I was very happy to see a beautiful okra pod with its showy flower growing in the garden. Then it was on to visit the grapevines.
Next, we were off to a lakeside setting for our first tasting and food pairing, where we spotted an egret and heron, as we tasted small bites of Coconut Scented Nigiri Rice with Pickled Plums and Vegetables (paired with Chardonnay) packed in charming little oval boxes.
From there, it was a drive to the top of the estate where a newly built glass-enclosed dining house awaited us, the dining table filled with elegant individual wooden trays of cheeses and estate grown olive oil samples paired with both Jordan's Chardonnay and Cabernet, and lovely individual Staub casseroles filled with Mirin Glazed Sonoma Beef and Brasied Vegetables - one of which was that lovely okra from the garden. We dreamily enjoyed all of it as we soaked in the sweeping vistas below, and hawks and vultures flying overhead.
Right there was enough for a perfect day, but then it was on to join the harvest lunch where we leisurely dined on dishes utilizing the estate grown produce, and sat and chatted with, Greg Miler, Director of Wine (isn't that a great job to have!)
Yes, I am a very lucky lady, sigh...
Oh- but you , too, can enjoy these things- the estate tour is open to the public, from mid-April through mid-November for $120, and the Harvest Lunch as a reward to Jordan Wine Club members.
More pictures on the next page...