A FAMILY LEGACY
By Jess Jackson
Being a family-owned winery absolutely affects our winemaking. It affords us the luxury to take the long view. We can take risks and grow our grapes in mountain and hillside vineyards- even though it is more difficult for both the farmer and the vine. But grapes grown on mountains have more character and more flavor—and that’s why we grow them there.
As a family-run business, we can put the long-term interests of future generations above short-term financial gains. Our success will be measured by generations of family, rather than by numbers on quarterly reports. We can’t just be thinking about today, or tomorrow, or this quarter, or this year. We have to take the long view—100, 200 years—and think of future generations and the environment in which they’ll live.
There are some special places where you just want to be, to live. And among those places are the coastal maritime, cool hills and mountains of the California coast. I’m at peace and spiritually satisfied when I’m in the mountains and hills and benches of California—the very places where the best grapes thrive. The land gives us what we need. It gives us our shelter, our food, our clean air—all of the things we need, except for one: family.
OUR FOUNDER – JESS JACKSON
Jess Jackson, visionary winemaker and founder of our company, was noted for popularizing Chardonnay with his Kendall-Jackson Winery and was one of the most successful independent winery owners in the world.
Known for his fearless, iconoclastic approach to business, Jackson became one of the world’s most successful self-made men by taking chances in businesses that were anything but a sure thing. He started first by selecting grapes from the best vineyards in California and turning them into a small bottling of Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve that soon became the most popular Chardonnay in America. Later, he purchased two racehorses that are among the most lauded thoroughbreds in decades.
A one-time longshoreman and police officer who put himself through University of California Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, Jackson became one of the best-known figures in American viticulture, as Kendall-Jackson became the best-selling Chardonnay in America for over two decades. He went on to found Jackson Family Wines, a winery holding company that, in addition to Kendall-Jackson Winery, owns and operates more than 35 individual wineries located around the world.
Raised in San Francisco during the Great Depression, Jackson worked as a farmer, policeman, and later as a land-use attorney. The law firm he founded went on to argue several cases before the Supreme Court. He started the Kendall-Jackson wine business with the family’s 1974 purchase of an 80-acre pear and walnut orchard in Lakeport, California that he converted to a vineyard. In 1982, he produced his first bottle of wine under the Kendall-Jackson label. This decidedly unique Chardonnay was an instant hit with consumers. In 1983 the wine won the first double Platinum Award ever presented by the American Wine Competition.
Jackson’s vision and outspoken manner often ran counter to conventional industry practices. When he realized that the quality of the French oak barrels used to age his wine was inconsistent, he invested in his own mill in France to provide barrel staves, and became a partner in a cooperage located in Missouri. He created his own California distribution company to remain free of industry consolidation. He was a leader in the sustainable farming movement within the wine industry, implementing dozens of environmentally-friendly farming innovations throughout the vineyards of Jackson Family Wines. As a philanthropist, he and his wife Barbara Banke quietly donated millions of dollars in support of local and national charitable organizations.
In 2009, Jackson was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame. At that time he remarked, „Wine is entirely different from liquor and beer, and I’d like to see our industry free itself from the images that are used to sell those products. Wine is a part of our cultural heritage. It has always been the traditional partner with food. Wine celebrates friends, family, and love — all of the best things in life.”
„When my family and I founded Kendall-Jackson in 1982, we simply wanted to create extraordinary wine from California’s best vineyards,” Jackson wrote in his biographical notes. „We grow grapes on our own 15,000 acres of California coastal vineyards. We take the no-compromise, high road approach to quality required to grow our world-class grapes and produce acclaimed award-winning wines. From day one we have been a family-owned and family-run business. It is a distinction that is rapidly becoming a rarity in our industry. Our family culture is built on the time-honored principles of hard work, integrity, and uncompromising desire for quality and the long-term stewardship of the land.”
Among the wines made in the Jackson Family collection are Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, Cambria, Stonestreet, Edmeades, La Crema, Cardinale, Lokoya, Hartford Family Winery, Vérité, Carmel Road, Murphy-Goode, La Jota, Freemark Abbey, Byron Estates, Arrowood in the United States; Chateau Lassegue in France; Tenuta di Arceno in Italy; Yangarra in Australia; and Calina in Chile. Jackson Family Wines is one of California’s few remaining family-owned winery groups, with family members working full-time in a variety of positions.
In recent years, Jackson’s passion for farming and horses led him into horse breeding and racing. In 2007, he became majority stakeholder in the racehorse Curlin who then won Horse of the Year for two consecutive years. The following year, Jackson’s filly, Rachel Alexandra was the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in 85 years. Rachel Alexandra also won 2009 Horse of the Year. An outspoken leader in the reform of racing, Jackson won the Sportsman of the Year 2008 Insider Award.
Today, Jess Jackson’s proud legacy is carried on by his wife of twenty five years, Barbara Banke, Chairman and Proprietor of Jackson Family Wines; five children, Jennifer Hartford, Laura Giron, Katie Jackson, Julia Jackson and Christopher Jackson; and two grandchildren Hailey Hartford and MacLean Hartford.
„From day one we have been a family-owned and family-run business. It is a distinction that is rapidly becoming a rarity in our industry. Our family culture is built on the time-honored principles of hard work, integrity, an uncompromising desire for quality and the long-term stewardship of the land.”
– JESS JACKSON, Founder
For anyone who knew him, it was clear that Jess Jackson was a man who lived by his principles. Today those principles serve as the foundation of our company vision.
Jess Jackson’s passion for life, his love of family and hard work, and his integrity and vision combined to make him one of the wine industry’s great men. With each bottle of Kendall-Jackson, we strive to honor his legacy, which inspires us each day as we work together to create some of the finest hand-crafted wines in the world. As Jess once said, “Wine celebrates friends, family, and love – all of the best things in life.”
„When my family and I founded Kendall-Jackson in 1982, we simply wanted to create extraordinary wine from California’s best vineyards.” -JESS JACKSON, Founder
Ours is as much the story of a winery as it is the story of one man, his family and a dream. In 1974, our founder Jess Jackson, famously bought an 80-acre pear and walnut orchard in rural Lakeport, California, where he planned to try his hand at creating wine from some of his favorite varietals while on weekends away from his successful career as a San Francisco attorney. „I was attracted by the lifestyle,” Jess said. „I wanted to get away from law and become a farmer.”
By the early 1980s, Jess and his growing family had transformed the orchard into a working winery that produced grapes Jess sold to other wineries. During a fateful harvest in 1980, a large order from another winery was cancelled, and Jess was stuck with a bumper crop of unused grapes: from this the first bottle of Kendall-Jackson was produced. This first bottling, the 1982 Vintner’s Reserve, garnered attention for its unique bright fruitiness. It was an immediate, if modest, hit. Though Jess and his family shipped less than 20,000 cases of that legendary ’82 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, the release went on to become the most popular Chardonnay in America. In 1983, Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay won the first Double Platinum Award ever presented by the American Wine Competition, and has gone on to win accolades year after year.
Now, almost three decades later, Kendall-Jackson Winery produces an array of super-premium wines whose quality, taste and integrity embody the very spirit of our founder’s mission. In Jess Jackson’s own words, „We grow grapes on our own 15,000 acres of California coastal vineyards. We take the no-compromise, high road approach to quality required to grow our world-class grapes and produce acclaimed award-winning wines.”
KENDALL-JACKSON HISTORICAL TIMELINE
1975 – Jess Jackson purchases Lake County property
1977 – Jess Jackson and family turn pear and walnut orchard into vineyard
1982 – Jess Jackson and family decide to make wine under the Kendall-Jackson label
1983 – Kendall-Jackson debuts with 1982 vintage Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay and wins first-ever Double Platinum Award in the American Wine Competition
1986 – Kendall-Jackson introduces Grand Reserve wines
1987 – Kendall-Jackson earns its first Wine & Spirits “Winery of the Year” award
1992 – Kendall-Jackson reaches 1 million cases sold
1992 – Winemaster Randy Ullom’s first KJ harvest
1992 – Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay becomes #1 Chardonnay in America
1996 – Kendall-Jackson creates Santa Rosa Wine Center at the former site of Château DeBaun
1997 – First vintage of Stature launches
1997 – 2 1/2-acre Organic Sensory Garden is planted at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center
1997 – The Kendall-Jackson Wine Center hosts the first Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival
2000 – Kendall-Jackson awarded Bon Appetit Winery of the Year
2004 – #1 Chardonnay by-the-glass in Wine & Spirits Restaurant poll 3 years running
2005 – Inaugural release of Highland Estates Collection; Vintner’s Reserve committed to Jackson Estates Grown (100% of all fruit is hand-selected from our vineyard estates) with 2004 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay
2006 – All Grand Reserve wines are now Jackson Estates Grown
2007 – Kendall-Jackson celebrates 25th Harvest
2007 – Jess Jackson is awarded lifetime achievement by Wine Enthusiast Magazine
2007 – Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Syrah are Jackson Estates Grown with 2005 releases
2008 – Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay ’07 receives 90 points from The Wine Advocate; Grand Reserve vintage wines move to single county or AVA, except for Chardonnay
2008 – Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot move to Tri-County appellation with ’06 vintage release
2008 – Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Zinfandel move to Jackson Estate Grown with 07 vintage
2009 – Introduce Vintner’s Reserve Summation white wine
2010 – Jackson Hills Collection launches; Vintner’s Reserve Summation red is wine introduced
2011 – Kendall Jackson releases AVANT
2011 – Jess Jackson passes away on April 21, 2011
2011 – Kendall-Jackson wins its tenth Wine & Spirits “Winery of the Year” Award
2012 – Winery President Rick Tigner stars in “Undercover Boss” on January 29, 2012 on CBS