August 1, 2014 | by Lisa Mattson

Jordan Vineyard & Winery is the first business in Sonoma County to achieve Fish Friendly Ranching® certification, a new program that helps preserve both the aquatic ecosystem and terrestrial wildlife habitats at livestock ranches.

Launched in March 2013, Fish Friendly Ranching (FFR) is taking a comprehensive approach to environmentally friendly land management. It recognizes working ranches that maintain water quality and foster biodiversity in aquatic and riparian habitats. Overseen by Napa-based California Land Stewardship Institute (CLSI), FFR is modeled after the successful Fish Friendly Farming® program, which has more than 130,000 acres enrolled in Northern California and has been managed by the CLSI for more than 15 years.

Jordan Winery Corriente Longhorn cattle cows

“Jordan Estate has demonstrated a dedication to land stewardship and the improvement of water quality and habitats by careful management of livestock and natural resources,” says Laurel Marcus, Executive Director of the CLSI. Nearly 35,000 acres of ranchland have enrolled in the program to date, and 30,000 acres have been certified across Napa, Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino counties.

The health of fish, birds and waterways is integral to the nearly 1,200-acre Jordan Estate, which is also Fish Friendly Farming® certified and received the organization’s Light Touch Award in 2012 for protecting natural habitat along creeks, streams, lakes and rivers. The Jordan property includes two expansive lakes and numerous seasonal creeks and borders the Russian River, which snakes around the property along West Soda Rock Lane. More than three-quarters of Jordan Estate is dedicated to woodlands and pastures, where native trees and wildlife thrive.

Jordan Winery estate vista point view Alexander Valley Sonoma

Ranching has roots at Jordan dating back to the 1980s. The first grapevines were not planted on Jordan’s winery estate until phylloxera struck in the mid-1990s. Jordan’s rolling hills behind the winery chateau were always dotted with grazing cattle, owned by neighbors. In 2011, second-generation vintner John Jordan decided to return ranching to the estate and purchased Black Angus and a few longhorn crossbred cows. Managed by Jordan Ranch Manager Brent Young, Jordan’s herd has grown to 24.

Jordan Winery Corriente Longhorn cattle cows

As part of its FFR application, Jordan Vineyard & Winery completed a Ranch Conservation Plan, which inventoried and assessed its natural resources, management practices and the overall property. FFR and Young then developed a comprehensive land management plan for the ranch highlighting beneficial farming practices, including pasture rotation, soil conservation, creek networking, water conservation, cover crop modifications, road improvements and restoration of waterways.

Jordan’s California Certified Sustainable Winegrowing certification is also in progress.