My friend Lupe and I were scheduled to fly to Paris on July 1 and return on the 15th, but alas, like most travel this year, the trip was cancelled due to COVID. Though we were happy to do our part and stay home to keep ourselves and others safe, we thought longingly of the lost chance to linger at a Paris café, drinking wine and enjoying delicious French food.
Then enter Jordan Winery and their new “Paris on the Terrace” lunch and wine-tasting. When we heard of this opportunity, we immediately reserved a table for their 11am to 1pm time slot – they also offer a similar experience from 2 – 4pm. In order to be more festive, we dressed in long flowing summer dresses and brought sun hats for the outdoor experience.
Arriving at Jordan Winery in Healdsburg, California
We wore face masks in the car on the drive to Jordan Winery, located in Northern Sonoma County outside the town of Healdsburg. When we entered the large impressive stucco gates and drove along the winding road with sprawling California oak trees decorating the golden-grass hills, my friend Lupe gasped at the magnificent of it. “I have never visited here before,” she said. “This is amazing.”
“What until you see the Jordan Chateau,” I responded.
Soon enough, the large ivy-covered yellow-stone chateau appeared at the crest of a hill. Built in 1976, the chateau houses the winery, tasting room, and administrative offices. But due to COVID, we would not be entering the building. Instead we would spend a delightful afternoon on the large terraces surrounding the chateau, each set with small white marble bistro tables with wicker-chairs imported from France. Large oak trees and café umbrellas provided inviting sun-dappled shade around the tables.
We checked in for our reservation at an outdoor booth, with all employees wearing face-masks, and communicating welcome smiles with their eyes. We were escorted to our table on the far terrace, where we had a great view of the organic gardens and vineyards beyond.
Food and Wine Pairing at Paris on the Terrace
Almost immediately upon sitting at our table, we were greeted by a hostess who served us a gently bubbling glass of Champagne, from Jordan’s partnership with AR Lenoble in France, and called Jordan Cuvee. It was crisp and delicious, and a great way to start our Paris feast. As we relaxed in our chairs, we heard the strains of happy French café music drifting across the terrace.
Over the next two hours, we were entranced with the delicious and artistic four-course meal that arrived at our table, along with matching wines for each course.
1st Course with Jordan Cuvee Champagne
Jordan Garden Crudité, made of pickled vegetables from Jordan’s organic gardens and garnished with edible rose petals
Jordan Garden Green Salad with fresh lemon and peppercorn vinaigrette, garnished with edible violas.
Baked Black Olive Bread fresh from the wood burning oven – we could see the flames and the chef remove the bread from the oven just before it was served to us!
Served with 2019 Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil for dipping
2nd Course with 2018 Jordan Chardonnay from Russian River AVA
Changes daily, but we were served:
Salmon Rillette with fresh dill and fennel from Jordan’s organic gardens
Side of Shaved Carrots Salad with puréed Raspberry sauce
3rd Course with 2010 Jordan Library Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Charcuterie with three meats – one made from Jordan cabernet sauvignon, and duck confit
Two cheeses, cornichons, Dijon mustard and fruit preserves
House-marinated olives and spiced nuts
4th Course with 2016 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon
Dessert – White Chocolate Mousse with crumble and raspberry sauce, garnished with edible pansy
(Note: I wasn’t sure this pairing would work, but the bright fruit of the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon actually accentuated the raspberry flavors in the mouse and berry sauce.)
Chef Customizes to Visitor Palate
Executive Chef Todd Knoll, formerly with the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton, can accommodate special dietary requests with 48 hours advance notice. This was fortunate for Lupe, because she is gluten-free, but he was easily able to substitute other items to suit her palate. Sadly, she missed out on the incredible olive bread fresh from the oven.
Enchanted by the Beauty and Taste of Courses
I must admit that the attractiveness of the dishes, with the fresh vegetables and herbs, picked that morning from the winery gardens, as well as the adornment with flowers, completely enchanted me. I was not expecting such exquisite beauty and taste, and found it to approach the level of a one-star Michelin restaurant. The service was also equal to one-star, with the masked servers appearing right on time to pour wine, deliver the dishes, and then describe each course in detail. I was in heaven! We relaxed back into our seats, listening to the music, and admitting that it felt like we were in France, even though it was beautiful Sonoma County.
When Crisis Spawns Innovation
Towards the end of our meal, Claire Smith, Guest Services Manager, approached our table to serve the last wine. She inquired about our experience, and we spoke rapturously about how much we were enjoying everything. I then asked her how they came up with the concept, and her reply was inspiring.
“Our hospitality team was actually sitting here on this terrace several months ago, all wearing our masks and sitting 6-feet apart, because we couldn’t have our staff meetings indoors anymore. We were brainstorming what we could do to encourage visitors to come back to the winery when we were allowed to open up again. Then all of a sudden, the idea came to us – we could host a lunch and wine pairing on this very terrace. As we continued to brainstorm, discussing food, our organic garden, our Champagne and wines, the name emerged quite suddenly – “Paris on the Terrace.” And this is the result of that team brainstorm session. Enjoy!”