July 15, 2019 | by Lisa Mattson
Rob Davis, who has worked at Jordan since the inaugural 1976 harvest and is considered the longest-tenured winemaker in Sonoma County, is transitioning into the newly created role of winegrower at Jordan, effective July 1, 2019. He has turned over lead winemaking and management responsibilities to Maggie Kruse, who has worked alongside Davis for the last 13 harvests.
Davis’s winemaking career began after he graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1976, when legendary winemaker André Tchelistcheff, consulting enologist at Jordan Winery, selected Davis to be his protégé in crafting the inaugural vintage of Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Tchelistcheff continue to mentor Davis until his death in 1994. Davis’s role expanded into working with grower vineyards during the phylloxera epidemic in the mid-1990s, when Jordan transitioned from estate bottled to purchasing grapes from local growers. Since then, he has managed both grower vineyards and winemaking, spending his mornings visiting a dozen Alexander Valley grape growers for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon and a half-dozen Russian River Valley grape growers for Jordan Chardonnay—and his afternoons at the winery working with his production staff. Davis will continue to manage all grower vineyards and serve as a mentor and advisor to Kruse and assistant winemaker John Duckett on many aspects of winemaking—just as André Tchelistcheff did for him.
“At many wine companies, managing grape growers is a full-time job, and we are grateful for all of Rob’s work to lead both the winemaking and grower relations for so many decades,” said John Jordan, CEO and proprietor of Jordan Vineyard & Winery. “For family businesses like ours, leadership changes like this only come around two or three times in a century. This newly created position will allow Rob to focus entirely on grapegrowing while letting Maggie to take on more leadership responsibility after 13 years of dedication to the company.”
Kruse joined Jordan in 2006, not long after John Jordan took the reins from his father. She worked closely with Davis on wine quality improvement programs initiated by John Jordan in 2006, fine-tuning barrel and cork selections while Davis focused on finding even better vineyards for sourcing grapes. Kruse was promoted from enologist to assistant winemaker in 2009 and began overseeing all aspects of barrels and bottling. She also took over day-to-day management of the cellar that year.
Fermentation science runs deep in Kruse’s family. Her father spent his career brewing beer at Miller in Milwaukee, and she moved to California from Wisconsin right after high school graduation to pursue her winemaking studies. Kruse graduated from the University of California at Davis in 2005 and worked as an intern at J Vineyards & Winery before joining Jordan the following year.