Judy Jordan Returns To The Wine Business

By Bill Swindell
The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.

After selling her J Vineyards and Winery earlier this year, Judy Jordan is back again in the wine industry but with a much different focus this time, using her expertise to shine a spotlight on mentoring youth rather than navigating supermarket shelves and bottling lines.

Using funds from the sale of her Healdsburg winery, Jordan this month purchased two Oregon vineyards and last week closed on the Sage Canyon Ranch in St. Helena, which was owned by culinary entrepreneur Pat Kuleto. Those vineyards will be placed under a new Santa Rosa company, The Capra Co., which in turn will fund a nonprofit arm to mentor youth ages 13 to 17. Financial terms were not released.

“Owning J was an entrepreneur’s dream and I could not be more proud of and grateful to the people, the wines and the devoted following that made it what it is today,” Jordan said in a statement.

“My next act will be focused on combining my love of the land with my passion for mentoring.”

Jordan’s announcement marks a quick return to the local industry that she grew up around. Her parents, Tom and Sally Jordan, founded Jordan Winery in the Alexander Valley in 1972. At 25, Judy Jordan broke away from her father and launched her own sparkling wine brand, which later received acclaim from wine critics. She went on to purchase additional vineyards and maintain them throughout the 2008 financial crisis.

But in March, she sold her Healdsburg winery and more than 300 acres spread over nine vineyards to E&J Gallo Winery. One source placed the deal at $90 million.

At the time of the sale, Jordan said in a statement she wanted to “look forward to my new chapter of building a mentorship platform.”

At J, Jordan established a mentorship program that even her two children, Robert and Nicole, went through, said her spokesman George Rose. It gave her a taste of what she ultimately wanted to do, he said.

The details of the mentorship program are still to be determined, but it is likely to have a strong viticulture component as Jordan, a Stanford graduate with a degree in earth sciences/geology, was noted for her love of the terrain around the Russian River Valley, Rose added.

“This was an opportunity to get back to the land, kick the dirt and spend more time in the vineyard,” Rose said.

Her brother, John, who now runs Jordan Vineyards, also has his own foundation, which he formed in 2012 to fund local education and health programs.

As for the properties, the Sage Canyon Vineyard in the Napa Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) comes with 60 acres primarily planted to cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. It is a total of 602 acres and had been listed for $11 million.

The purchase also includes the Eola Springs Vineyard in the Eola Amity Hills AVA in Rickreall, Ore., containing 72 acres primarily planted to pinot noir and chardonnay. Planted vineyards go for about $50,000 an acre in that region. The property has 176 total acres.

Jordan also bought the 75-acre Chehalem Mountain Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountain AVA in Newberg, Ore., with 35 acres planted to pinot noir and chardonnay. Planted vineyards go for about $60,000 an acre in that region.

Jordan will establish her own vineyard management company under the Capra umbrella. She has not named personnel who will be heading up that operation, said Rose, who added that Jordan may buy additional properties.

While at J, Jordan had taken trips up to Oregon to explore the increasingly popular wine regions there — Jackson Family Wines has made some investments in the Williamette Valley, known for its high-quality pinot noir grapes — so she had some familiarity with the fruit from the Beaver State, Rose said.

She named the company after the Italian word for goat. “The Capra Co. will strive to embody a goat’s sure-footed, independent, high-altitude approach to its surroundings,” Jordan said.

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