In 1980, Jeff Gordon, along with his wife, Vicki and brother Bill decided to plant wine grapes on a sagebrush-covered slope overlooking the Snake River in southeastern Washington’s Columbia Valley. In 1985, he released his first small lot of Chardonnay wine produced from their estate vines, and today the Gordon Brothers brand is growing in both production and acclaim.
Before planting the vineyard, Jeff sought out the expertise of Walt Clore, the “Father of Washington Wine.” Together the two inspected a 200-acre parcel of sagebrush-covered land near the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Walt strongly approved of the land that would soon become Gordon Brothers.
At the time the vineyard was planted, there were 19 wineries in Washington and less than 5,000 acres of winegrapes in production. Jeff and Vicki quickly fell in love with the camaraderie of the small, but remarkably supportive winemaking community. Now, the Washington wine industry has grown to over 300 wineries and 30,000+ acres of winegrapes, but the Washington industry still maintains its solidarity.
Along the way, there have been a few changes. In 1998 Jeff’s brother Bill retired. That same year a new wine production facility was built on the vineyard that greatly centralized all aspects of the winemaking process. In 2001, Jeff’s daughter and son-in-law, Katie and Marc Nelson, joined the family business. Marc manages the vineyard along with the organic cherries, potatoes, melons, corn and alfalfa. Katie is the Director of Marketing for the winery.