Spotlight: Wine With a Purpose
Judy Jordan ’79 is Making a Difference
Jana F. Brown
In 29 years of running her own winery, Judy Jordan ’79 came to admire the work ethic of the men and women who helped her cultivate the land, and the community they built through supporting the wine industry. The impetus behind selling the successful J Vineyards and Winery in 2015 was a feeling that Jordan was ready for more, ready to begin what she calls her “second act.” So, with the help of former “J” COO Kathryn Lindstrom, she founded a new winery “with a purpose.” Geodesy, says its website, was created “in gratitude to our agricultural community with the sole purpose of empowering the next generation of young women.” The foundation branch of Geodesy, Wild Goat Edge, is a nonprofit supporting the advancement and education of young women whose parents work in agriculture. One hundred percent of Geodesy profits go to that effort.
“The program supports these young women in agriculture through connectivity, internships, and mentorship,” explains Jordan. “The best part about it is that it’s creating a village of female leaders and mentors in our area.” To start, there are six young women, ages 17 to 21, taking part in a pilot program with Wild Goat Edge, attending Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College, with a goal of earning an associate’s degree. Those women are mentored by an under-30 female cohort, who previously worked with Jordan and team through a J-sponsored junior mentorship program. Beyond that, Jordan has put together a consortium of older women, between 40 and 65, who are leaders in agriculture, business, and education in the Napa area; one is a professor at Stanford, another an editor of a local newspaper, for example. Still another layer includes women in their 70s and 80s, willing to share their life experiences with the younger generations.
“We’re trying to set it up as a circular village that helps all women and brings more inclusivity to the younger ones,” says Jordan. “They succeed by taking us up on what we have to offer.” In addition to Jordan and general manager Lindstrom, the Geodesy team includes, among others, renowned winemaker Megan Baccivitch and Sara Sperling, Jordan’s executive assistant, who started on the J production line when she was only 19.
Geodesy lives by an understated but direct tag line: “Drink well. Do good. It’s that simple.” Jordan speaks of the idea of servant leadership that was instilled in her during her years at St. Paul’s. Though she knew little about the School when she applied as a teen from her home in Denver, Colo., she found tremendous nurturing from the teachers and the community as a whole, making close friends for life. “I came with polyester outfits, cowboy boots, and a curling iron,” Jordan recalls. “I was dropped into something unfamiliar and had to figure it out. I learned to survive and fell in love with the community. It set the stage for me to take chances in other areas of my life.”
Through Judy’s family-owned Jordan Winery, she branched off on her own in her late twenties to start J. Building a winery tested not only her business acumen, but also her management skills. In addition to finding joy in winemaking as a process itself and in the customers who fell in love with J’s offerings, Jordan came to cherish the in-house junior mentorship program, through which she first had a chance to work with the children of agricultural workers.
“It was so wonderful; they taught us so much,” says Jordan. “We gave them business experience. I knew for several years before I sold J that was something I wanted to keep doing.” The idea of “wine with a purpose” has turned into Geodesy – a name that pays homage both to Jordan’s training as a geologist and the beauty that comes from the Earth. As Jordan explains, it takes at least four years to make a good wine – sometimes eight. “We are trained to be very patient in agriculture,” she says. And though she understands that her calling is to promote the advancement of women, she knows it will take time to build her social enterprise.
Geodesy wines are created by an experienced team of agriculturalists and winemakers, precision farmed and hand-crafted by experts. For most entrepreneurs, business success is driven and measured through financial metrics. But with Geodesy and Wild Goat Edge, Jordan and Co. are putting the beneficiaries first in an upended model. By honoring the legacy of the families who have served as the backbone of Napa Valley’s wine industry, she is giving back in a way that was ingrained in her at St. Paul’s.
“Every day I get up and know this is what I was meant to do,” Jordan says. “The agenda is very clear; the young women are the center of this program. These wines are beautifully crafted, and anyone who chooses them can know they are doing something good.”
To learn more about purchasing Geodesy wines and making a difference in the lives of young women in agriculture, visit geodesywine.com.