The Difference Between Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve and Grand Reserve Wines
Over the last 37 years, Kendall-Jackson has grown its wine portfolio organically through the call-response mechanism of winemaker foresight and consumer thirst. Today, the K-J portfolio offers five paths of exploration: K-J Avant, Vintner’s Reserve, Grand Reserve, Jackson Estate and Stature.
This now highly-structured series began modestly with Vintner’s Reserve. More specifically and very simply, it began with the Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. It took the Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay only ten years to become America’s best-selling Chardonnay! Every year since, wine drinkers have enthusiastically pulled bottles off the shelves to make this single wine America’s favorite.
Given this initial success accompanied by Jess Jackson’s determination to expand Kendall-Jackson’s selections into a more expansive range, he introduced a red blend “Meritage” along with a Riesling and a Zinfandel in 1986. Eleven labels strong today, all the wines save the “Red Wine Blend”, fka Meritage and then after known as Summation, are varietal wines. Blended or varietal, each is sourced primarily from California's Pacific wind-influenced vineyards.
Always having an eye on consumer's interests, Jess introduced the Grand Reserve collection four years after he launched Vintner’s Reserve. Today, this trio represents the K-J winemakers’ selections of top lots coming exclusively from Kendall-Jackson's owned vineyards. Their focus is so razor sharp that they make only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon as Grand Reserve wines. Moreover, as of the 2017 vintage, all of these estate vineyard wines will carry the California Certified Sustainable Wine logo on their back label. This third-party certification verifies that the wines are made such that, from grape to bottle, the well-being of the environment, the grape growers and the winemakers are of foremost concern alongside that of delivering consumers the best possible glass of wine.
In sum, other than grape variety range, there are two primary differences in the fruit that goes into the Grand Reserve and the Vintner’s Reserve wines. The first is the fruit origins. In addition to coming from estates owned by Kendall-Jackson, the Grand Reserve wines witness to a single appellation, or American Viticultural Area. The Vintner's Reserve wines may be a blend of grapes from owned vineyards as well as from fruit purchased from trusted grape growers. Additionally, some Vintner’s Reserve wines are artfully crafted from fruit sourced from across California coastal vineyards whereas others come from one or only a few origins.
What the Vintner's Reserve and Grand Reserve wines share is excellent distribution. Across the US, there is a very good chance you can find them close to home in your favorite wine or grocery store.
All of Kendall-Jackson’s wines are focused on cool, coastal grape-growing sites. The Grand Reserve wines focus even more narrowly on sources from mountains, ridges, hillsides and benchlands. This is because elevation enhances cooler temperatures that yield even greater finesse in the glass. Yet from wherever they hail, both the Vintner’s Reserve and the Grand Reserve collections aim to overdeliver on quality for each wine’s variety(ies), style and price point.
Read on about the differences between Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve and Jackson Estate wines.
Christy Canterbury is a Master of Wine, journalist, speaker and judge based in New York City. In 2014, she was short-listed for the Roederer Online Wine Communicator of the Year Award. Her work has been published in Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, Edible Green Mountains, Wine Searcher, Food Arts, Snooth, Beverage Media, TimAtkin.com, Civiltà del Bere, Wine Business Monthly, TASTED, Selectus Wines and in other outlets.