Sonoma Vet Judy Jordan Jumps Back Into Wine, Buying Vineyards in Oregon and Napa

The former owner of J Vineyards starts a new chapter, with two Willamette Valley properties and one near St. Helena
Sep 28, 2015

Judy Jordan, who founded J Vineyards and grew the California winery to 150,000 cases before selling it to E.&J. Gallo earlier this year, has purchased two vineyards in Oregon's Willamette Valley and one in California's Napa Valley for a new project called Capra Company, which plans to use future revenues to support a nonprofit training and mentorship project.

The two Oregon properties both grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Chehalem Mountain Vineyard is 75 acres, 35 of them planted, in the Chehalem Mountains appellation, while Eola Springs vineyard is 176 acres, 72 of them planted, in the Eola-Amity Hills appellation.

Jordan would not disclose the price of either deal, but Chehalem Mountain Vineyard was recently listed for $1.25 million.

"I am starting my third act after the sale of J, focusing on premium vineyard and land management," she told Wine Spectator. "My new life allows me to return to what I love most in the wine business—geology, terroir and vineyards. It's less about growing a larger winery and its operations and more about the land. I also continue to be passionate about Pinot Noir. So Oregon is a great fit for me!"

Capra, based in Santa Rosa, Calif., also purchased Sage Canyon Vineyard in Napa Valley. The vineyard, near St. Helena, includes 60 acres of vines, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, on a 602-acre property.

"I playfully named the company after the Italian word for goat," she said. "The Capra Company will strive to embody a goat’s sure-footed, independent, high-altitude approach to its surroundings."

Jordan is the daughter of Tom and Sally Jordan, the founders of Jordan Vineyards and Winery, which focused primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon at the time. A Stanford graduate with a degree in earth sciences/geology, she split off from the family's business in 1986 to launch J, with a focus on sparkling wines. By the 1990s, J was making still wines, primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, from more than 300 acres spread over nine vineyards in Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast regions. Gallo purchased the J brand, vineyards and winery in March.

Chehalem Mountain Vineyard was the first site purchased and developed by Dick Erath, who founded what is now known as Erath Winery. He originally planted 23 different varieties, but the vineyard is now planted to Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

"Chehalem Mountain and its marine sedimentary soils seem well-suited for great Pinots of one style," Jordan said, putting on her geology cap. "The Eola-Amity property and its volcanic [soils] offer potential for a different but equally excellent style of Northwest-style Pinot."

She allowed that she was just starting on her learning curve as a grower in Oregon. "It is fun to venture into something new. And the people I have met in Oregon are wonderful and very supportive. I will inevitably learn a lot from them."

Winery Purchases and Sales United States Oregon News

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