Kendall Jackson Winery
It’s hard to believe that the huge Kendall Jackson is still a family business, but it is. Jess Jackson started his first 80-acre vineyard in Lakeport, CA in 1974 when he was still a practicing attorney in San Francisco. Mr. Jackson was selling his grapes to other winemakers, but then in 1980, one of his customers cancelled an order, and Mr. Jackson was left with the necessity of making his own wine. And soon enough, the Kendall Jackson 1982 Vintner Reserve Chardonnay became the most popular wine in America. Now, with over 15,000 acres throughout Coastal California, there are a lot of wine offerings to be had. A lot of Jackson family are involved in the enterprise. Kendall Jackson even has a really good variety wine club for the more unusual, vineyard-only wines.
The winery has a triad of wine offerings – the KJ Grand Reserve that you will often find on sale at Safeway, the Vintners Reserve collection which is a little more high end, and then their top of the line Stature offerings.
I got there the day they released the new 2012 KJ Vintner’s Reserve Camelot Hill Chardonnay. I find their higher end Chardonnay to be less buttery with more flavor abundance. Wine club members pay $28 for this excellent wine.
The winery is located off River Road just west of the freeway. There aren’t any other wineries or tasting rooms around, but it’s on the way to Healdsburg and certainly worth a stop as a lot of their wine leaves the vineyard only in customers’ hands. The people are really nice and informative of not only their wines but the surrounding neighborhood.