Epoch Winemaker Jordan Fiorentini Makes Wines of this Epoch

Today, Monday, March 25th, is International Women In Wine Day! In honor of the day, and the entire month of March that celebrates women, I wrote a story about  Jordan Fiorentini of Epoch Estate Wines in Paso Robles for Men’s Journal and share it here.

Epoch Winemaker Jordan Fiorentini Makes Wines of this Epoch

An epoch is defined as “a period of time in history or a person’s life, typically one marked by notable events or particular characteristics”. In this period of time in history, Epoch Estate Wines is making its mark. With Jordan Fiorentini leading the charge, Epoch Estate Wines is both preserving history and looking to the future as they make wines of this epoch.

Epoch Wines in Paso Robles is an award-winning winery producing meticulously grown and crafted wines. These are wines that regularly score 95-100 points from a variety of renowned critics and many of the wines have been named on top 100 lists of international wine publications. Leading these successes is Vice President of Winemaking & Vineyards Jordan Fiorentini.

Jordan Fiorentini was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and was first introduced to wine by her father who was making wine in Georgia. After studying engineering at Dartmouth, Jordan thought it would be fun to work one harvest. She spent the fall of 1999 in Napa Valley and ended up studying at UC Davis where she earned her master’s degree in Viticulture and Enology. After graduation, she worked in Tuscany, Italy for Antinori, where she met her husband, and returned to California to work in Sonoma at Chalk Hill.

Epoch Winemaker Jordan Fiorentini Makes Wines of this Epoch

Jordan had heard about San Louis Obispo County (SLO) from Cal Poly graduates she worked with. But it was after reading an article about Paso Robles and all the grape varieties grown there that her interest was piqued. Then she met Bill and Liz Armstrong, both geologists and the owners of Epoch Estate Wines. Bill and Liz purchased the Paderewski Vineyard in Willow Creek District in 2004. In 2008 they purchased and planted the Catapult Vineyard also in Willow Creek. They made their first vintage of wine in 2007. In 2010, Jordan joined as winemaker. That same year, the Armstrongs also purchased the old York Mountain property, located in its own AVA, the York Mountain AVA which sits outside of the Paso Robles AVA.

Between the Paderewski Vineyard and the York Mountain Vineyard, Epoch Estate Wines preserves two integral pieces of Paso Robles history. Paderewski Vineyard was established by Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a world-renowned pianist and Polish diplomat. Paderewski came to Paso Robles for the hot sulfur-rich mineral baths for his rheumatism and fell in love with the area. In 1913 he purchased 2000 acres on the west side and planted Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. To make his wines, he took them to York Mountain Vineyard which was the site of the first bonded winery on the Central Coast.

With three vineyards, Epoch Wines are made exclusively with estate fruit. While Epoch sells fruit to other wineries, they do not purchase any grapes. Jordan follows organic and biodynamic farming practices, as well as block-specific winemaking. In addition, the limestone and shale soils in the vineyards are true reflections of the epoch. Jordan describes it as “making wine from soils from 20 million years ago” as the soils that were once at the bottom of the ocean are now at the top.

Epoch Winemaker Jordan Fiorentini Makes Wines of this Epoch

The resulting wines are wines that reflect where they were grown and the vintage they come from. The vibrant 2022 White ($45) is a blend of Grenache Blanc (56%), Viognier (39%), and Roussanne (5%).

The delicate and fresh 2023 Rosé ($40) is a blend of Mourvèdre (63%), Grenache (26%), and Syrah (11%) coming from all three Epoch vineyards, Catapult (70%), Paderewski (27%), and York Mountain (3%). Its alter ego is the red 2021 Veracity ($75), a blend of the same three grapes – Mourvèdre (43%), Grenache (34%), and Syrah (23%) – from the same three vineyards – Catapult (13%), Paderewski (73%), and York Mountain (14%). This wine is a nod to Châteauneuf-du-Pape and has fresh fruit and spice notes and bright acidity. The 2019 Ingenuity ($75) is a blend of Petite Sirah (71%), Mourvèdre (14%), Grenache (12%), and Syrah (3%), all from the Paderewski Vineyard, and offers structure and depth.

With both Grenache and Syrah, Jordan makes a bottling from the Paderewski Vineyard and a bottling from the York Mountain Vineyard. Tasting the 2021 Sensibility Grenache next to the 2021 York Mountain Grenache and the 2019 Block B Syrah next to the 2019 York Mountain Syrah, the difference in place expresses itself. York Mountain is a cooler spot than Paderewski and the York Mountain wines tend to offer darker fruit aromas and more intense tannins and texture than the Paderewski wines which offer brighter aromas.

In addition to Rhone varieties, Jordan is growing and bottling Tempranillo and Zinfandel. And in 2024, she is releasing her first Bordeaux blend, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot.

Jordan is preserving history through the Paderewski and York Mountain Vineyards and looking to the future with organic and biodynamic farming and producing wines that speak of place and time. But Jordan is also looking ahead to future generations. For two decades, she has mentored aspiring winemakers and guided many to continue onto careers at other top wineries. Jordan’s commitment to the winemaking.

Read the original story in Men’s Journal

And if you want to learn more about Jordan, listen to the interview I did with her for the Wine Soundtrack podcast.