Ehren began his preparation for winemaking at George Washington University where he majored in Art History with a minor in Classical Archeology. "Of course", you say, "obvious prerequisites for a winemaking career". In fact, Ehren has no formal degree in fermentation science from any institution, a fact he proudly credits with his success.
Instead, one of those "thousand insignificant choices we make everyday" set him on his course: he got a part-time job as stock boy at Bell’s Wine Shop down the street from ABC Studios in Washington, D.C. While Bell’s proprietors, the brothers Luskin, certainly introduced young Jordan to the possibilities of connoisseurship, Ehren tells more anecdotes about waiting on Sam Donaldson and Andy Rooney than about sublime vertical tastings of Chateau Latour. (Ever heard the expression "Youth is wasted on the young"?)
Eschewing traditional routes to a winemaking education, Ehren instead worked his way up the vertical integration ladder. After graduating from college in 1989, he left for Denver, Colorado where he worked briefly as a sales rep for a large wine distributor. But the siren song of ski season in the Rockies grew louder as winter approached and Ehren headed for the restaurant scene in Aspen. Schussing by day and bussing by night, our 21-year-old would-be winemaker went from wine steward to sommelier/manager by the end of the season.
As the snows and drinking crowds melted, Ehren headed to the Napa Valley with a posse of associates from the restaurant on the first leg of what was to be an extended journey during the Aspen off-season. However, finding the funds low, our hapless hero presented himself on the doorstep of Joseph Phelps Vineyards looking for a temporary job as a tour guide…. Three years later, after stints giving tours, working in the cellar, making sales calls with then VP Bruce Neyers, and managing retail sales, Ehren finally left Phelps to try his hand at winemaking in the venerable vineyards of the Rhône Valley.
Celebrated oenologist Jean-Luc Columbo took a chance on the erstwhile Ehren, whom he had met the prior year. A Francophile since adolescence, Ehren threw himself into all aspects of what seemed like turn-of-the-century winemaking in age-old caves and endurance-sport viticulture on the terraced hillsides of Cornas. During the sodden 1992 and 1993 vintages Ehren helped make Les Ruchets, Columbo’s own label, and visited many of Columbo’s clients, among some of France’s most esteemed wine brains.