Bring California Terroir to Your Table with This Simple Vinaigrette Salad Dressing Recipe

Reader Contribution by Lisa Kivirist and Inn Serendipity
1 / 6
2 / 6
3 / 6
4 / 6
5 / 6
6 / 6

When you have high-quality ingredients in season and farm fresh, often a simple recipe is all you need to really showcase flavor of freshly harvested produce. Such is the case with this Simple Salad Dressing recipe from Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg, California, as their wine-making success builds on this idea of appreciating the terroir of a place, celebrating the flavors of the land from vineyard and growing field to wine glass and plate of fresh greens. 

“When most tourists visit wineries, they don’t see much more than the inside of a tasting room, but here at Jordan we want you to fully experience the land and what we’re all about,” shares John Jordan, the second-generation vintner who now manages this winery started in 1972 by his parents, Tom and Sally Jordan. “Sonoma County is first and foremost a community of farmers and that agricultural heritage plays a big role in building the wine reputation Healdsburg has today.”

A commitment to quality drives Jordan Vineyard and Winery. From the start, their focus has been on perfecting just two wines: A Cabernet Sauvignon inspired by the finest French Bordeaux and a not-your-typical California Chardonnay, crafted with crisp fruit flavors, vibrant acidity and a lingering finish. As you wind up the road leading to the main winery building in the middle of 1,200 acres, you time travel to a regal era of France as the main building is elegantly designed in the chateau tradition. From the polished woodwork to custom crafted tilework, every detail here is thoughtfully executed.

“Jordan has two personalities: the stately and pretty French chateau and the wild, rugged beautiful land and we wanted to make sure folks experienced both,” explains Lisa Mattson, Director of Marketing and Communications at Jordan Vineyard and Winery. “We added in the Estate Hikes a few years ago to expose people to the full Jordan experience.”

Joined by my photographer-husband, John Ivanko, we jumped at the opportunity to join this hike and explore this field-to-glass journey at Jordan in mid-November, where the amber leaves on the vines after harvest created ripples of gold and auburn throughout the fields. The hikes cover about four miles and take about 2 to 2.5 hours to complete. It includes an initial breakfast stop to sample items like yogurt with candied kumquats and honey pollen from Jordan’s farm and apiary.

The hike concludes with a wine tasting paired with a bountiful buffet back at the chateau, including local charcuterie from Journeyman Meat Company in Healdsburg, quince paste with fruit from the orchard, and garden greens tossed with their Simple Salad Dressing. Even the roses on the table come straight from the field, with the farm and gardens run by the husband and wife team of Nitsa and Todd Knoll.

The heart of Jordan beats a commitment to sustainability. After a lengthy six-year committed effort to reduce energy consumption as low as possible, a 454-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system maximizing southern exposure sunshine now produces enough electricity to meet over ninety percent of the winery’s electricity needs. Native plantings surround the on-farm apiary to provide food for the bees during the leaner winter months. 

“We make wine here, but we try to do more than that,” says Jordan. “We are working to preserve Sonoma County in its original form and do it in a way that makes it accessible to people, which is why our experiences are designed the way they are.”

“We also have a soft spot for animals needing a home,” he adds with a grin, as he greets the menagerie of rescue animals on the farm – from miniature donkeys to goats.

Simple Salad Dressing

Courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery

The perfect addition to any fresh green salad or grilled vegetables, this simple salad dressing recipe is a favorite vinaigrette in the Jordan kitchen year-round. A pure olive oil dressing, it also complements the structure of Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay and frames its bright acidity. Feel free to cut the proportions back to your needed quantity. For a crunch, add some toasted almonds on top.

Yield: 4 quarts


• 2 tbsp Dijon mustard&#x2028
• 1 small head of garlic (12 whole cloves, peeled)&#x2028
• 2 medium shallots, roughly chopped&#x2028
• 1½ cups sherry vinegar&#x2028
• ½ bunch Tarragon, stemmed&#x2028
• 1 tbsp salt* &#x2028
• 2 tbsp granulated sugar*&#x2028
• 1 tbsp ground pepper*&#x2028
• 2 cups Olive Oil, Jordan Extra Virgin recommended
* salt, sugar, and pepper can be adjusted to taste


1. Combine mustard, garlic, shallots, sherry vinegar, tarragon, salt, sugar and pepper in a blender.

2. On low speed, slowly incorporate the extra virgin olive oil to emulsify. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Note:  this vinaigrette dressing can be placed in tightly sealed containers and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband, John D. Ivanko, a photographer and drone pilot, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to MOTHER EARTH NEWS, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son, Liam, and millions of ladybugs.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368