HEALDSBURG, California—It's a Monday afternoon in mid-March, and Republican multimillionaire John Jordan is preparing to host House Speaker John Boehner for dinner the following Saturday—not that he sounds particularly excited about it. "I know that, traditionally, that it makes donors feel good that the candidates, the politicians come," he tells me, as he steps into the intimate dining room where they'll be eating. "I really don't care."
Jordan isn't fussing much over the menu, other than to ensure that there will be generous amounts of the acclaimed cabernet sauvignon produced on his 1,450-acre Northern California vineyard. (Boehner's love of reds is widely known.) He does have one surprise in mind: a 9-foot mechanized dinosaur that will appear, partway through the meal, amid the giant wine tanks that the dining room overlooks. Jordan wants the event—where he and other donors will mingle with Boehner and select staff—to be anything but boring. Along those lines, he has one rule for his political guests: no speeches. "We all know what they're going to say anyway," he explains.
This is Boehner's second visit to the vineyard in as many years. The last time the speaker swung through town, in March 2013, Jordan—who took over the wine business from his parents—dashed off more than $80,000 in checks to his guest and various other GOP groups. Indeed, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, last year he was the third-largest individual super PAC contributor in the nation, behind only billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. No wonder so many prominent Republicans—the list includes Mitch McConnell, Rick Perry, and Tim Pawlenty—have made the trek to Jordan's winery in recent years.