In 2007, Jordan Kivelstadt took a leap of faith. In his early twenties, he decided to leave his career in management consulting to pursue a very different career in wine-making. After discussing a career change with a friend over lunch one afternoon, Jordan was intrigued at the idea that a career move into the wine-making field would allow him to fulfill his creative passions and pursue his love for food and wine.
At the beginning of his new chapter, Jordan began his journey into wine-making by traveling the world. Across the globe he experienced wine-making in places such as California, Australia, Chile, and Argentina. Returning to Sonoma, Jordan had a new outlook on wine-making, diverse experience, and fresh inspirations. This, paired with his family's love for European art, wine, culture, and cuisine, Jordan made his first 125 cases of Estate Syrah in 2007.
Today, Kivelstadt Cellars creates 3,500 cases annually. One-third of the wine produced is created from the 10 acres of vines located on Kivelstadt Vineyard, which has been owned by Jordan's family, Nancy Kivelson and Tom Angstadt, since 2005.
With the girl & the fig's upcoming winemaker's dinner with Kivelstadt Cellars at Suite D on July 15th, we met with Jordan to learn more about Kivelstadt Cellars and his experiences as a local winemaker.
How did you first become involved in wine-making?
"I left my old career as a management consultant and was looking for something I could do that used my hands, and incorporated a passion of mine. I actually had lunch with a friend to discuss this, and he said you love food and wine, ever thought about making wine? I of course responded, "You can do that?", and he helped connect me with my first harvest internship at Copain in the fall of 2006."
Tell us about your wine-making philosophies. Are there ways in which your process or approach is distinct?
"I believe that great wines are made in the vineyard. We work almost exclusively with organic vineyards, and look for ones that are at least 30 years old. We partner with passionate and experienced growers, who in turn grow great grapes. From there, we make low alcohol, high acid, food wines - so it is all about nailing the pick. Generally we are picking 1-3 weeks before other winemakers. We then use the minimal amount of additions, only using yeast or nutrients when it is critical to ensuring wine quality. We also use almost no new oak, I like to let the terroir show through, and only use new oak on our biggest red wines."
What are some of the wines you will be pouring at Suite D?
The Rosé is a classic provenceal style, a blend of Grenache and Carginane. I actually foot tread the grenache overnight to get the flavor profile I like.
The SB comes from an amazing vineyard in Kenwood, and we do it half in steel, half in neutral oak - bright but complex.
Estate Pinot Noir & Syrah
The estate wines are our signature wines, coming off my family's 10 acre property in Bennett Valley.
Finally the orange wine is skin fermented Marssanne, Roussane, Viognier - barrel aged and full ML. Really interesting and fun!"
Who are some of your favorite winemakers?
"I really love regions, and discovering great new wines from those regions. Right now I am drinking a ton of Boujoulas and Jura. I wish I could make Gamay (can't source any!) and I think the Chardonnay coming out of Jura right now is truly spectacular."
Do you have a favorite food and wine pairing?
"I love stinky cheese and orange wine, they were made to go together!"
Rosé: Apps/reception (Twice Removed 2016)
rostis, crème fraiche, & chives goat cheese & lavender honey toasts fennel marinated feta & olive skewers
Sauv Blanc: Course 1 (Family Secret 2016)
trumpet mushrooms, spinach vin blanc
Pinot Noir: Course 2 (Sibling Rivalry 2014)
provençal herb duck breast
fresh shelling beans, seared heirloom peppers
Syrah: Course 3 (The Inheritance 2013)
smoked short ribs
corn puree, roasted toy box cherry tomatoes,
Orange Wine: Cheese Course (Wayward Son 2016) trio of local hard cheese
grilled apricot, dehydrated apricot, apricot mostarda