Chef Knoll foraging for edible plants
A foraged Blue Camas bulb

on the estate

The spirit and aesthetic of a natural habitat are central to our culinary philosophy. If not in the kitchen, Executive Chef Todd Knoll can usually be found in the hills and meadows of the Jordan Estate throughout the year. Amid the gnarled oak trees, he forages for wild porcini, miner’s lettuce, chamomile, mint, yarrow, rosehips, prickly pear, mulberry, onions and more, coaxing out a sense of terroir, similar to our winemaking process. There is nothing fresher and more distinctively Jordan than collecting a garnish or another ingredient from the rolling hills or between the rows of vines just prior to any culinary event at Jordan. Director of Hospitality & Events Nitsa Knoll shares the same inspiration and philosophy in her floral arrangements and place settings, incorporating the lichen found draped in our oaks, moss, branches and even the beautiful stone found throughout the estate. Ultimately, we hope our guests take with them a deeper understanding of this special place and a lovely memory to accompany their next enjoyment of a Jordan wine.

Nitsa Knoll forages for materials to use for a beautiful dining room centerpiece

coastal foraging

The Knolls’ frequent drives to the coast, just an hour west of the winery, are rewarded with some of California’s greatest culinary contributions. Among the sea salt- and fog-kissed coastal forests, the Knoll family finds a great diversity of wild mushrooms, including porcini, black trumpets, golden California chanterelles and matsutake. While Todd forages for fungi, emerald pine tips and huckleberries, his wife gathers ferns, fallen branches and lichen for a beautiful dining room centerpiece. Along the ridgeline, Nitsa collects eucalyptus tree bark for private meal place settings, as well as cypress branches and thistle, a natural filler for an arrangement of freshly cut flowers from the winery garden. 

Homemade sea salt used in Jordan house caviar
Chef Knoll collects saltwater and kombu

ocean foraging

The Pacific Ocean inspired Chef Knoll’s most ambitious foraging project—creating homemade sea salt for our house caviar. A practice that the chef began growing up in Hawaii, and later continued all over the world, collecting saltwater to make sea salt takes patience and great care. The results, however, capture a stunning sense of place. His sea salt recipe led to the creation of the Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar by Tsar Nicoulai.

To create the Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar, Chef Knoll takes a few empty jugs kayaking or boating off the Sonoma Coast shore and collects saltwater and kombu (a mineral-rich type of kelp). He then lugs the five-gallon containers filled with pristine coastal water and kombu back to the winery where he dehydrates the kombu and then lets it infuse with a chilled bath of the collected salt water for three days before the kombu is removed and final evaporation occurs, making the caviar’s essential cure. Tsar Nicoulai then sustainably harvests the roe from 100 percent California white sturgeon raised at the company’s farm in Sacramento County before the infused sea salt is applied.

A Deeper Look