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Wine Icon Judy Jordan Launches Social Entrepreneur Wine and Mentorship Venture at her New Vineyard

photography courtesy of GEODESY WINE

Judy Jordan's new vineyard Geodesy
Judy Jordan, the founder of J Vineyards & Winery, is starting a new chapter in her life with the launch of a nonprofit program known as WG Edge

Judy Jordan is one of the pioneers of women in wine. When she launched Sonoma’s iconic sparkling wine house in 1986, she was just 26 years old. Wine was very much a man’s world. While she was studying geology at Stanford University, her father, Tom Jordan, started Jordan Winery, known for its luscious Bordeaux style Cabernet blends. Judy was fascinated by terroir, but her family was traditional, and her father planned to pass the winery to his sons. However, he also saw Judy’s passion and took a progressive approach, helping her launch the new vineyard J Vineyards & Winery.

Judy Jordan founder of Geodesy Vineyard

“When I started J, I didn’t know what I was doing,” Jordan said with a laugh.

Her father mentored her on the winemaking, while Lew Platt, the then CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP), whom Jordan met while hosting a private tasting in Silicon Valley, schooled her on the finer points of business.

“I couldn’t have done it without either of them,” Jordan said. “But I realized that very few women of my generation had female mentors, and I wanted to change that for the next generation of young women.”

Jordan first got interested in mentoring when she started a mentorship program at J Vineyards for the children of employees.

“I fell in love with it. It was so much fun,” Judy Jordan said. “In 2015, I was in my early 50s and realized I was young enough to have another adventure. As much as I loved J, I always wanted to do more with young women and leadership.”

With the sale of J Vineyards to E. & J. Gallo, Jordan was ready to step into the shoes of a social entrepreneur with the launch of WG Edge, a nonprofit program for young women pursuing careers in agriculture and viticulture that funds scholarships and provides programming and a network of amazing women mentors and leadership counselors.

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Judy Jordan's foundation for women WG Edge

Currently, the nine women in the program are all studying at Santa Rosa Junior College in the acclaimed agriculture program. WG Edge also provides a series of health and wellness workshops for the group and access to some of the most powerful women of Wine Country with real-world knowledge and expertise.

“It’s really all about connection,” Judy Jordan said. “We have this amazing village of women who are all at the height of their careers and giving back and supporting the young women in the program.”

To fund her new nonprofit, Jordan put on her entrepreneurial hat and created Geodesy. This new wine company has two vineyards in Oregon and one in Napa. Scott Zapotoky, the former winegrower at J, and Megan Baccitich, the former winemaker at Paul Hobbs, are the viticulture dream team behind the small-batch Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Blends of Geodesy.

The new wine venture gave Jordan and the winemaking team a chance to flex their creativity.

The new wine venture gave Jordan and the winemaking team a chance to flex their creativity, as Jordan purposely chose vineyard locations that would push her out of her Russian River comfort zone.

“We are all classically trained, and we came from wineries where we had a specific brand style that needed to be maintained,” Jordan said. “With Geodesy, we can apply our classical training, experience and high standards outside a set framework. We allow each vintage to speak for itself.”

While only a few hundred cases are made each year, 100 percent of the profits go to support the women in WG Edge.

“It’s a very customized, competitive program. It’s like creating high-end wine in small quantities,” Judy Jordan said.

Geodesy Eola Springs Chardonnay Judy Jordan's new vineyard

Those wishing to join the program must express a true interest in agriculture and technology and a willingness to stay in the Napa and Sonoma area to use what they learn to continue to nurture the Wine Country community through new vineyard endeavors.

Napa and Sonoma certainly need some nurturing after the devastating fires that roared through the area in late summer. The fires were devastating to Geodesy’s Napa vineyard. Half the vineyard burned. They lost 20 percent of the vines and made the decision to not harvest at all in 2020.

With the ever-growing climate challenges in the area, Jordan is even more convinced that the WG Edge program is fulfilling a major need.

Geodesy Vineyard terrior founder Judy Jordan

With the ever-growing climate challenges in the area, Jordan is even more convinced that the WG Edge program is fulfilling a major need.

“It’s harder than ever for small farms and wineries to survive. We have to do everything we can to keep this community vibrant. We need the next generation to stay in the area,” Jordan said.

And thanks to Judy Jordan’s social entrepreneurism and the WG Edge program, she’s creating a path for that to happen.

“With this new venture, I feel like myself, my children and my team are the roots of the vine. Geodesy wines are the stock, and the fruit is the women who will ultimately flourish through the program,” Jordan said.

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