If you’re familiar with winery websites and blogs in California, you must have noticed that our blog, here at Kendall-Jackson, is a lot more geared towards food than many others.
For example, the blog’s lead article is almost always a wine-and-food pairing. At this moment, under “Categories,” we have 76 articles on Culinary Education, 93 Food Pairings, and 184 Recipes! There aren’t many wineries with that track record.
Why do we emphasize food so much? Well, to begin with the obvious: We’re eaters! We love good food as much as you do. Kendall-Jackson is one of the few wineries that has a full-time chef, our great Justin Wangler, who not only oversees all the activities at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens but also the kitchen at K-J Healdsburg, our Healdsburg restaurant (Partake by K-J) and tasting room. So we’ve simply taken our love of food and wine and raised it to a higher level.
Jess Jackson loved good food and wine. He understood the symbiosis of the two. “Wine is a part of our cultural heritage,” he once told an interviewer. “It has always been the traditional partner with food. Wine celebrates friends, family, and love – all of the best things in life.” He always knew that, when he was able to build Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, the “Gardens” part of it, with its fabulous array of fruits, vegetables and flowers, would be essential. Jess didn’t invent the term “farm to table,” but he was an early and ardent practitioner of it.
Jess was very proud of the fact that the wine that put him on the map, Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, enabled millions of ordinary Americans to drink a high-quality wine with their lunch and dinner. (Maybe some of them drank it with breakfast, too!)
Jess didn’t want to make trophy wines at Kendall-Jackson — the kind that only millionaires could afford. He wanted to produce the best, most varietally-true wines in California at the fairest price. And he himself was the first to enjoy his own K-J wines. A few years before he died, in 2011, he invited Lettie Teague, who at that time wrote for Food & Wine but is now the Wall Street Journal’s wine columnist, to his home and ranch in Kentucky, where they had lunch with Jess’s wife, Barbara Banke, and some friends. As Teague reported, for an appetizer, Jess poured his Vintner’s Reserve Riesling with a Kentucky horse-country classic: toasted bread with a blend of melted cheese and beer! Then they had chicken and sausage gumbo, barbecued shrimp with cheese grits and, for dessert, chocolate bread pudding with bourbon-caramel sauce. The wines? All Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserves, of course: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Steve Heimoff is one of America’s most respected and well-known wine writers. The former West Coast Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and a contributor to Wine Spectator, he has also authored two books on the subject of California wine, including “New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff,” published in the fall of 2007.