“Being big can sometimes hamstring you in the wine industry with buyers and consumers” Randy Ullom, winemaker at Kendall Jackson (yes, of the huge supermarket brand label), began his presentation to a few invited guests.
One of the groups KJ has chosen not to be hamstrung by is stockholders. The company has been family owned for over 3 decades, continuing to reinvent the wine business, and choosing to gain more control of their own destiny. He continued with a brief overview of what makes a great wine, and what goes into the creation of KJ wines.
KJ owns 40,000 acres in California, and has recently purchased land in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Also, in further pursuit of controlling their destiny, they even source their own trees and logs for the barrels used for aging their wines.
Okay, before I go any further, I know there may be some of you out there who are wondering why I would spend time going to my second tasting of Kendall Jackson - of the super market label - wines (I visited their tasting room in Sonoma County a few months back where, by the way, they included some of their Grand and Vintner Reserve wines.) They also happened to have sent some of their wines to serve at a luncheon of Southern food I hosted back in January which made me realize I definitely had to rethink that big supermarket profile. So I was delighted to receive an invite to a wine blending seminar they held here in So Cal, where I would get a chance to try my hand at blending one of those Grand Reserve wines.
Have you ever wondered why a certain varietal- say a Cabernet- can vary so much from label to label, from year to year? I was about to get hands on insight into why that’s so.