Story by Diane Haynes Woodburn
“Sorry I wasn’t able to return your call earlier,” Michael Jordan says. “We just finished tasting sixty pinots.”
Tough work, but someone has to do it. In fact, that person could be you, June 8 through 11, when the 36th annual Kapalua Wine and Food Festival offers hundreds of the world’s finest wines for your tasting pleasure — and where Michael Jordan will be lead sommelier for the sixth consecutive year.
Director of Global Key Accounts for Jackson Family Fine Wines, Jordan is one of just 129 master sommeliers in North America, and one of only fifteen people in the world to hold both Certified Wine Educator and International Court of Master Sommeliers diplomas. He also won Wine Enthusiast’s highest honor, the Award of Ultimate Distinction, 2004 through 2009. And if that doesn’t impress you . . . his godfather was Frank Sinatra.
Yep. Jordan doesn’t like to brag, but his dad and Ol’ Blue Eyes were best friends. Back in the sixties, Jordan Senior opened the famed Matteo’s in Los Angeles. “Frank would come into the restaurant four nights a week,” Jordan tells me. “That [and the delicious food] is what made Matteo’s the celebrity hangout it was.” In the 1970s, a second and equally respected Matteo’s opened in Waikīkī, which is how Jordan happened to grow up in the Islands. (The Waikīkī restaurant sold in 1984, and closed its doors in 2016.)
Combine Jordan’s love of food, celebrity family life, and a deep local-boy appreciation for Hawai‘i, and you have the ingredients that created the man known within the food-and-wine community as “sommelier for the people.” Although the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival is one of the longest running of its kind, Jordan brings to it a freshness and a joie de vivre that are both legendary and infectious.