We’re all looking for something inspirational with everything we’ve seen and gone through in the past year. In Judy Jordan, we find truly inspirational leadership through Geodesy Wines. She recently sat down to share the details of her new endeavor. And without a doubt, the most striking thing in listening to Judy speak of her latest project is that you instantly understand that she is a woman full of gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunities she has been afforded and for the chance to make meaningful change.
After almost thirty years at the helm of J Vineyards & Winery, Judy decided it was time to chart a new path and give back in a way in which she was uniquely qualified. From her years of experience in the wine industry, Judy knew two things to be certain. First, “in the world of hospitality, agriculture, and wine business, women in leadership positions are sorely unrepresented to the best degree. We see it throughout. And we see it even more extremely with women of color,” she shares. And second, she knew that with everything going on in the world (COVID, natural disasters, etc.), this underrepresentation would “be amplified.” Judy witnessed the widening discrepancy between those who have access to leadership positions and insider connections with those who don’t, particularly when comparing owners on one end and those working in the fields on the other. She felt called into action.
Erasing those discrepancies and the pervasive underrepresentation of women in leadership positions is at the heart of what she is trying to do with Geodesy Wines and her non-profit, WG Edge – Women Gaining an Edge. WG Edge is a Napa and Sonoma-based leadership development program that supports young women in agriculture. Weaved throughout the program is the concept of “connectivity.” And that’s what the organization is doing—giving women a connection to scholarships, internships, and networking to leading women who can provide them access and open doors.
When Judy thinks about her career, particularly those years at J Vineyards, she’s thinks about the things that brought her the most joy. She felt joy when a customer would gleefully discover a new wine or a fabulous food-and-wine pairing that they never thought would work, and she fondly recalls the mentorship program at J Vineyards.
That program was provided for the children of the winery’s agricultural and cellar workers. It exposed them to different facets of the winery business, whether it was finance, vineyards, or the chemistry lab. She loved that the program “allowed the kids to really come into their own and gave them the ability to speak confidently” about something they enjoyed. For Judy, it was a gratifying experience and one that she has held onto over the years.
On a more personal note, Judy knows the profound difference that accessibility provides. She recalls that when her daughter was a senior in high school and needed a job, all she had to do was reach out and call Katie Jackson or Gina Gallo and ask for an internship. Her daughter would usually get the opportunities, would always excel, and make Mom proud in the process. But Judy understood that “what she had, [and what those] other young women in the community don’t have, is access.”
WG Edge is providing that access. The organization currently has nine women participants with programs tailored specifically to them. These women are taking advantage of opportunities such as internships at wineries, working at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, and journalism scholarships for those who want to advocate for agricultural lands. And because, as Judy says, “it takes a village to help open doors,” some of the most prominent women in Napa and Sonoma wine are involved and actively playing a part. Judy acknowledges that while she had wonderful mentors, including her father Tom Jordan, of Jordan Winery and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Lew Platt, it’s not surprising that both were men. And while she was so grateful to the wonderful men in her life (“We need our men,” she laughs), she always longed to have the support and mentorship from a woman who could help her with self-confidence in a male-dominated industry.
To fund her non-profit endeavor, Judy created Geodesy Wines. “Geodesy” stands for geology (Judy is a self-professed “geologic nerd with rocks in the head”), geography, and is a moniker for “girls odyssey.” One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of the wines support the mission of WG Edge. She tapped Megan Baccitich, with whom she’d had a great deal of experience over the years, as the winemaker for Geodesy. With her extensive and varied experience in the wine industry, which included time working for Paul Hobbs, Megan was just the person to make the premium, limited-production “wine with a purpose.” Geodesy currently has three wines from revitalized heritage vineyards—two from Eola-Amity Hills and Chehalem Mountains in Willamette Valley and one from Sage Ridge Vineyard in Napa Valley.
While the program currently serves the Napa and Sonoma communities, Judy hopes that once the current program bears fruit, it can be replicated in other wine agricultural communities. Judy, we are here for it!