When Judy Jordan sold her revered J Vineyards and Winery in March 2015 to E. & J. Gallo Winery she could have retired and traveled the world. But she had a passion, a plan, and maybe just as important – patience.
Jordan, who had founded J Vineyards and Winery in 1986 with the support of her father, Tom Jordan, had earned a long list of accolades for her high-end sparkling wines by the time she sold her winery. She had also found a renewed sense of inspiration and energy from a mentorship program for children of winery employees. Now she was ready to combine her two passions — winemaking and mentoring — in the next chapter of her life.
“It was the right thing at the right time and I could feel myself changing and being ready for this new act,” said Jordan.
But making a difference, much like making good wine, takes time.
A new nonprofit
Jordan’s dream finally came to fruition — she launched a nonprofit, WG Edge, dedicated to advancing the next generation of women in agriculture. Along with workforce- and leadership development programs, the nonprofit provides young women with scholarships and internship opportunities. The first scholarships were awarded in 2019.
So far, nine women attending Santa Rosa Junior College have received WG Edge scholarships. While the SRJC’s Doyle Scholarship covers tuition, WG Edge provides what it calls “wraparound funds” to cover necessities like housing, food and transportation so that women students can stay focused on completing their education.
“We want Sonoma County to be successful agriculturally. Not necessarily all in grapes, it doesn’t have to be. It can be farming, floral, animals,” said Jordan. “We just need to keep our community vibrant and this is one way to contribute to that.”
To provide mentorship and connections, Jordan also has gathered a group of women of all backgrounds and ages who meet regularly to share ideas. Before the coronavirus, they would get together at in-person events like career mixers. Now, they meet virtually and, despite the circumstances, the network continues to flourish.
Wine with a purpose
To fund her nonprofit, Jordan is doing what she does best: making and selling wine.
Jordan’s new wine label, Geodesy, comes with a tagline that sums up her mission: “Drink well. Do good.” All profits from the wines go toward WG Edge — the goal is to create a “social enterprise” where the sales from a small amount of very high-end wines can support the program on an annual basis, ensuring that it remains financially sustainable.
To make the wines, Jordan has gathered people from her J Vineyards team and she uses grapes from vineyard estates in Sonoma County’s Petaluma Gap region, Napa Valley and Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills and Chehalem Mountains. The wine label produces just a few hundred cases per year. Current releases include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and a Napa Valley red wine blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and other varietals.
“If this continues to be successful, imagine what good that does for the community,” said Jordan. “We end up with these strong, powerful young women who understand agriculture and who, in and of their own right, will bring back great things.”
Jordan’s estate-grown “wine with a purpose” is available on the Geodesy website. Costs range from $75 to $175 per bottle. Three levels of membership are also available. 100 percent of the profits support the young women of WG Edge.