Today a wine industry icon, legend and truly interesting and successful man passed away. Jess Jackson, owner of Kendall Jackson and many other wineries, died at 81 from complications from cancer, according to the KJ website.
In a round about way, I can thank Jess for being in the wine industry. I started just over 4 years ago at Arrowood Winery which Jackson had acquired about 6 months prior. Sure, he didn’t hire me directly, but I’ve been able to grow in this business because of what I learned from my time at Arrowood and Matanzas Creek Wineries. And for that, I can certainly thank Jess for the opportunities that I have had.
I met him a few times. I’m sure he had no idea who I was, but it doesn’t matter. There was something special about being in the same room with this great man. Sure, we probably didn’t see eye to eye on all the decisions that I saw happen over my time with the company, but doesn’t that happen everywhere? Even so, I can look back with a lot of respect and understanding.
He was an amazing business man. To grow Kendall Jackson into the giant that it is (but not suffer on the quality front) and to own more that 14,000 acres of grapes in California, not to mention his successes in horse racing and international wineries.
So, raise your glass tonight and toast Jess Jackson. The wine industry will not be the same without him.