Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates

Owner(s) Jackson Family Wines
Web site www.kj.com
 
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Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates

Jess Jackson built a virtual wine empire, acquiring tens of thousands of acres in five countries, and developing 35 wineries and labels. There are multiple tiers within Jackson Family Wines, now owned by the Jackson family heirs. Jess Jackson's widow, Barbara Banke, is the Chairman of Jackson Family Wines, formerly known as Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates.

The company has three dozen California wine brands divided among three divisions: Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates (Highland Estates, Stature, Jackson Hills, K-J Vintner's Reserve, K-J Grand Reserve, Avant), Artisans & Estates (Matanzas Creek Winery, Lokoya, Byron Vineyard & Winery, Freemark Abbey Winery, Cardinale, La Crema Winery, La Jota Vineyard Co., Murphy-Goode Estate Winery, Arrowood Vineyards & Winery, Hartford Family Winery, Matanzas Creek, Stonestreet, Carmel Road, Cambria Winery and Verité), and Jackson Wine Estates International (two Bordeaux chateaus, wineries in Chile, Australia and Italy). Each of the California brands has its own winemaker with Randy Ullom as the head Winemaster. Most of the brands have their own winery and vineyards but may draw upon mutual grape sources. The wineries exercise their own artistry.

The Jackson family owns 13,000 planted acres along the cool coastal ridges of California, including exceptional Pinot Noir vineyards in the best cool-climate regions including Anderson Valley, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Carneros, Arroyo Seco and Santa Maria Valley. Only the Sta. Rita Hills is lacking, but the winery may explore this region further in the future. Most of the annual fruit requirements are sourced from the estate vineyards: two-thirds of fruit used in Kendall-Jackson wines is sourced from the family's vineyards.

More recently, Pinot Noir labels Champ de Reves, Maggy Hawk and Windracer have entered the marketplace with great success. The CEO of Jackson Family Wines is Don Hartford of Hartford Court Winery, who is married to Jess Jackson's daughter, Jenny Jackson.

Since Banke took over the company after Jackson's death in 2011, she has acquired additional vineyards, including 1,365 acres in Oregon (including Zena Crown and Gran Moraine vineyards), the first foyer into this state by Jackson Family Wines. She added 14 new properties and 2,800 acres to the winery's holdings, now totaling about 35,000 acres worldwide. A new winery is scheduled at Zena Crown Vineyard where an estate Pinot Noir will be produced beginning in 2013 or 2014 with Oregon winemaker Tony Rynders as consultant working with winemaker Shane Moore (former associate winemaker at La Crema). The Gran Moraine Vineyard will provide grapes for a Pinot Noir under the La Crema label. Jackson Family Wines also acquired the Hickinbotham Vineyard in Australia's McLaren Vale, reportedly paying more than $10 million for the 445-acre vineyard.

The company is also a partner in Merrain International, an oak barrel stave mill in the Vosges district of France, and distributorships are owned in California, Arizona and Canada.

Nearly every wine is produced from estate vineyards, numbering 10,159 acres across the state. The company also owns 11,055 acres of vineyards internationally. 23% of California vineyards are planted to Pinot Noir. 100% of Kendall-Jackson's vineyards in California are SIP (Sustainability in Practice) Certified and CCSW (Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing) recognized. Total production is about 5 million cases, of which 3 million cases are labeled Kendall-Jackson. Annual revenue is reportedly $500 million.

Kendall-Jackson made its name by producing a consistent, fruit-forward, aromatic type of Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay, drawing from vineyards all over California to form a blend. The wine was very appealing to the American palate because of its hint of sweetness and converted many Americans into wine drinkers. Today the wine is more serious, more dry than it used to be and is 100% Chardonnay.

A tasting room, Partake by K-J, is located near the northwestern corner of the Healdsburg Plaza and is open daily from 10:00 to 5:00. Partake by K-J is an eatery and tasting lounge specializing in wine flights and seasonal bites featuring ingredients from the winery's organic gardens and Sonoma County's culinary artisans. The space spans two rooms with seating for 55 guests. Reservations are suggested (visit partakebykj.com).

Jess Jackson passed away in April, 2011. The future of the winery will fall onto the shoulders of Jackson's youngest children.

Reviewed Wines

2012 Kendall-Jackson Jackson Estate Outland Ridge Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.55, 2,794 cases, $35. Clones “828” (36%), 667 (28%), Pommard 5 (18%), 777 (12%) and 117 (6%). Aged 10 months in 59% French oak, 30% new. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Shy, almost nondescript aromas of smoky red berries. Much more expressive on the palate with intense middleweight flavors of black cherry, blackberry jam and smoky oak. Firm tannins lurk underneath. Lacks a bit of grip, but finishes with good aromatic persistence. The nose was much more giving the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 89. Reviewed May 15, 2014 ARTICLE »

2010 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve California Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.53, 50,000 cases, $19. Sourced from cool California coastal Jackson Estates Grown vineyards including Santa Barbara County (54%), Monterey County (41%) and Mendocino County (5%). Aged 8 months in 96% French (19% new) oak barrels. This is always a remarkable wine for me considering the huge production. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of darker cherries and berries with hints of oak and spice and even peppered beef. Wood-kissed black cherry and black raspberry fruit on a light, elegant frame with mild, sandy tannins. Pair with Asian “shakin’ beef.” Consistently one of California’s best value Pinot Noirs, widely available, and often discounted. Good (+). Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve California Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., >50,000 cases, $18. Jackson Estates grown. · Generous aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries with hints of exotic woods. Medium-weight flavors of slightly confected red cherries and berries with the slightest oak vanillin evident. Impressively smooth like Elvis on velvet. I kept sipping over an extended period and the wine kept delivering appealing fruit flavor. All you could ask for at this price: low alcohol, smooth texture, simple but tasty fruit, instant drinkability, ease of acquisition, all from a renowned producer. Good (+). Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve California Pinot Noir

alc., >50,000 cases, $18. Jackson Estates grown. · Delicate aromas of darker red berries and raisins with a hint of oak. Mildly intense flavors of strawberries, raspberries and cherries with some persistence on the fruit-driven, dry finish. Smooth in the mouth and easy to drink. Will work beautifully at the table when Pinot Noir is called for. Good. Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve California Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.68, $15.69. Kendall-Jackson, who cultivates 12,500 acres of vineyards, is reputedly the largest grower of Pinot Noir in California and the Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir is the best selling Pinot Noir in the United States. This wine is 92% Pinot Noir with a splash of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Zinfandel for added color and complexity. Sourced from multiple California vineyards from Santa Barbara County to Mendocino County. 86% aged for 9 months in French oak barrels (some American oak barrel aging as well). The winemaster is Randy Ullom. Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Pleasing slightly confected · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Pleasing slightly confected aromas of strawberries and cherries with supporting oak and cedar. Modestly intense cherry and berry fruit core veering toward cherry Life-Savor flavor. Soft in the mouth with slippery tannins. A fine training wheels Pinot that is highly drinkable and a stellar value. Your wine impaired in-laws will love this wine. Good. Reviewed July 15, 2010 ARTICLE »