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How was the Jordan ceramics project born?
Todd Knoll: I thought we could use a piece at Jordan that
was the ultimate expression of our terroir-if ceramics
are composed of clay and there's clay in our soil, why not
incorporate some of that clay into the ceramics? I couldn't
think of any culinary experience more connected to the land
than eating vegetables from Jordan's garden on a plate that
was made from clay in the soil in which those ingredients were
grown. But it wasn't guaranteed we could do it. We needed
the right kind of soil, the right kind of clay. I knew Will was
very knowledgeable about clay composition and about what
was going to work and what would not. We hiked across
Jordan Estate and dug promising clay samples from four
different spots. There is a creek bed near John's home, so
we tried clay from there. We also took a clay sample at Vista
Point, where the Estate Tour & Tasting culminates-a location
where the plate will be presented to guests. In the garden
near our greenhouse, we found a spot that had been recently
excavated to create better drainage. We removed a few
retaining wall pavers, and saw this beautiful, almost-red,
clay-heavy soil. That was the winner. Call it luck, call it fate,
but the clay in the soil from our garden is the best clay for our
custom plates. You can't get more perfect than that.
Will Callnan: What's great about this project is that between
the design and the composition of the natural elements, every
piece is slightly different. I like to think of them as fingerprints,
each with their own unique signature. To ensure this individual
character, we don't slip-cast work, instead we prefer to handmake
the molds for our pieces to help create that one-of-akind
look and feel.
How did you four meet?
Nitsa Knoll: We've known Will and Nikki for a while.
Todd and I have been going to their holiday sales event
at the studio for years. It was an easy connection for
us. Not only do I love their work from a design aspect,
but I love how they run their business-hospitality is
interwoven with family. They're a husband and wife
team with a workshop behind their home. There's an
outdoor dining table right between the two buildings.
Their children play in the yard while they take turns at
work. Our son played fetch with their dog during the
open house. They poured hot apple cider for all the
guests who came to the party. It made an impression.
Jordan is such a huge part of who we are, no matter
what we do or where we go, we are still working,
thinking of Jordan. Whenever we go anywhere in the
world, we always think, 'How can I bring this to Jordan?'
I remember we thought that the first few times we came
to the studio.
Todd Knoll: Of course, the product made an impression,
too. The ceramics have to complement the food they
hold. I think of my food as grounded in the natural, so
it lends itself to ceramics that have an organic look.
Whenever I walk through the NBC Pottery Studio, the
eclectic, perfectly crafted work speaks to me. It is a chef's
call to action.
Nikki Ballere Callnan: We have dug clay from various winery
properties for these sorts of custom projects before. It is
exciting to see how the clay, once cleaned and processed,
reacts through the firings and glazing. Sourcing the clay for a
project from a specific terroir builds a story around the pottery
and creates a deeper connection. It makes a memory between
the piece and its origin.
What was it like to work with another married
working couple?
Nitsa: There's just an innate connection on many levels.
Any time you have couples that work together, there's a
commonality. Most people can't believe Todd and I work
together. We can't imagine not working together. Will and
Nikki are the same way.
Todd: It's hard to find two people working toward the same
goal the way we are. We appreciate that in them. We know
what's important to us and what we should be striving for.
For the four of us, it's about artistic expression and lifestyle.
Our food is strongly anchored in nature-the natural habitat we
find around us in Sonoma. Their work follows the same design
process and feel. Our crafts always have an awareness of place
and time. It is both food and art inspired by the moment and by
our surroundings. The four of us find joy in sharing beauty with
others-creating things that bring our customers pleasure but
are also artistically fulfilling to the maker.
Will: We really like Todd and Nitsa. We had a great bond
the first time we met them. When Todd called us and told us
what he had in mind for this, I was like, 'Absolutely. We want
to work with these guys.' They're kindred spirits.
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Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 14, 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 14, 2019

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