When word spread in Oregon that the Jackson Family was moving in
the entire state of wine was abuzz
“What’s it all about,” they whispered?
I thought, “Well, this is going to shake things up a bit.”
My first interaction with Jackson Family of Wines was years ago, when I was photographing winery cats. I had put a book together and Chronicle Books was interested in my project. At the time, they already had a book entitled Cats in the Sun. It’s a gorgeous books of cats photographed against a stunning Greek Isles backdrop. My winery cats, against the backdrop of mostly funky wine barrels, stainless steel tanks, and stolls through vineyard locations couldn’t compete in splendorous locations, so they passed. At the same time, my looking for a full time job in the wine industry also couldn’t compete with my trying to publish a book, querying every single publisher, until I would find one…
Instead, a short story was published in The Wine News, a gorgeous glossy magazine based in Coral Gables, Florida. It was a success in that regard. It was perhaps one of the very first integrated pest management stories. I knew of none, so I just submitted a photo for their last page, devoted to GrapeScape images. Editor Kathy Ferguson Sinnes – little did I know – is another cat lover. She asked to have a story for a feature, so I shifted gears and submitted it.
Jackson Family had a cat in my photos, and it was Jess Jackson’s daughter who came out to meet and greet me, as I photographed their cat. That was in Lake County, long before the family has also taken up residency in Santa Rosa, California… It’s only a few miles from where I live, when they purchased Chateau DeBaun’s tasting room.
The Jackson Family has played a larger role in my life than anyone there can possibly imagine; after all, I was only a background singer, in that regard… Still, for me, they’re a primary notch on my wine career belt.
When I decided to go solo and began Diaz Communications, my initial times had very lean days. I spent weekends at Kendall-Jackson as a wine educator, which put food on our table; and, it gave me access to their greatly expanded portfolio. It had copiously grown from the cat story (1993) until my solo launch (2011). In their tasting room, we were mostly selling their complete portfolio, so I had a crash course in holdings. It was so worth it for me.
What most impressed me, and still does, is that whatever they’ve purchased, they just leave in place. I can think of others who make a purchase, fire everyone but that “one person” who knows everything about the winery, and then moves everything to one central location. This is homogenization of human resources at its worst, only benefiting the buyer.
So, there’s K-J, just doing it right
When the Jackson Family moved into Oregon a couple of years ago, I was pretty happy. It’s a state that’s had a few decide to be very protectionistic, regardless of anyone else in the state. Any other variety besides Pinot Noir trying to make a stab at it, hasn’t been well regarded. Having a marketing giant come in is bound to cause some long-needed shifts. The recent purchase of Penner-Ash Wine Cellars is delicious. The portfolio has 14 designated Pinot Noirs; more red blends, Syrah, Viognier, a rosé, and a Riesling. they’re going to have a broad view. This is going to help a lot of wine companies, which have been so restricted.
It’s going to take some fun marketing to keep all of these balls in the air, and Jackson Family can certainly pull it off. It also takes the energy of an Aries personality to just keep this up.
Full moon of the month in Aries on April 22, 2016
… goes to Jackson Family of Wines. You guys are the kind of pioneers who are going to be crafting a completely new chapter in the history of wine grape growing in Oregon. It’s a very young viticultural state, and just moved from adolescence into a young adult. With its own wholesale company, this is going to be very interesting to see how shelf space is now divided. Right now, everything is dominated by a couple of wholesalers. This is a step toward helping to break up the monopoly that’s always brewing there, in so many different forms.
Read There They Go Again, in the Oregon Wine Press.
By Karl Klooster, July 2011 (and not much has changed)
Borrowing a saying Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan made famous when he was the occupant of the Oval Office, “There you go again,” America’s big beer and wine wholesalers are once again trying to ram through Congress a bill that would wreak havoc on small wineries.
Last year, the country’s mega-wholesalers, who enjoy what amounts to a monopoly in many markets, tried to get HR 5034 through. It would have allowed states to fundamentally alter the grounds on which laws and regulations may be challenged.
The bill was twice referred to committee. It finally died an ignoble death at the close of the congressional session.
Jackson Family of Wines disintermediated (removal of wholesalers in the three-tiered system) years ago. They’re going to give the state’s structure a run for its money, knowing how to play in the sandbox of, “Yeah, right, not… three-tiered system.”
Aries are activists. If a business idea comes their way, they tend to plunge right in. Aries are more then willing to take a gamble and follow their dreams and goals. Unlike some Aries who get bored with trying, this is NOT so for the Jackson Family, though… There’s probably a lot of Taurus in their efforts, too; as evidenced by everything they’ve touched so far has been built into a golden palace.
Let’s see what happens… I’m very hopeful for the state that it’s going nicely forward in a more openly accepting, Zen way.