Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 15, 2020 - 43

About 75 percent of Jordan's bee population is now
comprised of captured hives-a surprising shift from
what began in 2016 as the winery's first apiary, when
a beekeeper helped introduce local queen bees to
populate the hives. Because it took time to reintroduce
queen bees and establish new hives after the fires,
Knoll held off on harvesting honey for three years.
The good news is that as of last summer, Jordan's hives
are in full production, yielding a whopping 170 pounds
during their first full harvest. The honey is even more
delicious and dark-hued than previous samples. Even
though a few hives were abandoned after the most
recent fall wildfire, repopulation has already begun.
Professional beekeepers first began bringing hives
from the Sacramento Valley to Jordan's 1,200-acre
estate in 1996, to allow the bees to forage before
the almond bloom season. (See " Go with the Flow, "
2018 Wine Country Table.) By way of thanks, the
beekeeper made a tradition of bringing a half-dozen
mason jars of honey to Knoll at the end of each
year. Knoll was immediately impressed by the flavor
and quality of the honey harvested from the visiting
hives, and came to view honey as another expression
of the estate's terroir. With local bee populations
declining at an alarming rate due to colony collapse
disorder, Knoll understood that creating a yearround
home for the bees at Jordan was the right
thing to do, and would also provide him with Jordan
Estate Honey to complement his farm-to-table Wine
Country cuisine.
Planted with a ready source of food from native
flowering plants, Jordan's apiary is located just a few
feet from the winery's culinary garden. Completed in
the fall of 2017, the bee garden is filled with native
manzanita, madrone, wild fennel, thistle, poppies and
other plants to enhance the bees' annual food supply.
The type of plants pollinated by the bees plays an
important role in the character of the honey. Just as
there are wines made from a single grape variety,
distinctive honeys are produced by bees that primarily
pollinate a single type of plant.
There are more than 300 unique varieties of honey
available in the United States, each derived from a
different floral source that imparts its own aromas,
flavors and colors to the honey. Colors range from
almost clear to molasses brown, and flavors fall
anywhere from subtle to bold, with floral, smoky, nutty
or earthy notes. Light-hued honeys are generally milder
in flavor, while darker ones are stronger. Just as grape
vines produce distinctive wines with each vintage,
flowers growing in the same spot may produce slightly
different nectar from year to year, depending on the
weather conditions.
In addition to Jordan's estate honey, Knoll sources
single-variety honeys from around the world to use
in recipes he creates for winery guests. " You can
really tell the difference when the bees are pollinating
different types of plants, " he says.
Some of the most interesting and delicious honeys,
Knoll adds, include Mexican coffee blossom and thistle,
along with tupelo, produced by bees that collect nectar
from the blossoms of tupelo trees found along rivers
and swamps in the wetlands of Florida and Georgia.
The lightest, mildest honeys come from sweet clover,
alfalfa and even stingerless honey from Brazil, while
citrus blossom, tupelo, buckwheat and wild sage
produce darker honey that is a bit stronger in flavor.
Wildflower honey's profile varies according to region,
depending on the distinct flowers found in each area.
Jordan's honey is made from the nectar of multiple
plant sources found within three miles of the bees'
estate garden home. The result is a complex honey
that is dark but clear in color, with notes of chamomile
and citrus. The honey's distinctive character echoes
the chamomile blossoms that blanket the vineyard
and meadows in spring, as well as the blossoms of the
Meyer lemon, ruby grapefruit and lime trees that grow
in the orchard just yards from Jordan's apiary.
Knoll uses the honey in everything from vinaigrettes
to sauces and glazes for duck and pork. The golden
honeycomb becomes a beautiful natural centerpiece
for the exquisite cheese courses Knoll prepares for
dinner parties.
One of his most spectacular showcases for Jordan's
honey is Knoll's individual Baked Alaska shaped in the
form of a Victorian-era skep beehive and filled with
honey ice cream. The show-stopping desserts, often
served at formal lunches and dinners in the dining
room, are garnished with bee pollen collected from
the estate apiary, then drizzled with fermented mango
honey and finally adorned with playful handmade
marzipan bees.
Guests can visit the Jordan apiary and garden, as well
as taste Jordan honey on the Estate Tour & Tasting
and Vineyard Hike experiences.
43
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Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 15, 2020

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