Behind the Scenes at Jackson Family Wines Slideshow
Winemaster Randy Ullom
Even a peak vantage point fails to illustrate the scope of the 12,000 acres of producing vineyards that make up Jackson Family Wines. As Ullom said, "From a winemaker's perspective, it's the greatest playground in the world."
During harvest season, grapes are plucked from the vines at an incredible speed the workers sprint nonstop up and down the steep rows of vines carrying tubs of ripe grapes.
It's estimated that a single worker will pick anywhere from one to two tons of grapes in a day. Once harvested, the grapes are brought directly to the winery to be processed.
One of the advantages of controlling the entire vineyard-to-barrel process is that the freshly harvested grapes can be taken to the press immediately. Once the bins arrive at the winery from the vineyard, the grapes are dumped into a receiving area and taken down via conveyor belt directly to the press.
Monument Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
A prime example of the winery's small vineyard mentality, the Monument Ridge cabernet is made using only grapes from the specific blocks on a single vineyard that the winemaker deems the best that year.
Kendall-Jackson Wine Center
At the picturesque wine center, a variety of different wine-pairing tastings are offered seven days a week (no reservations required!). Guests can choose between an incredible wine and food pairing, a wine and cheese pairing (featuring products from local artisan cheesemakers), and a wine and dessert pairing.
Wine Sensory Garden
Perhaps the coolest feature at the wine center, however, is the wine sensory garden. Often referred to as a "scratch and sniff" garden, the space is comprised of a white wine section and a red wine section. Within each are fruits, vegetables, and herbs that represent characteristics found in specific varietals of wines. So for example, in the sauvignon blanc section you'll find pears, lemons, melons, and even olives growing.
Beyond the Wine
In addition to making wine, the company also has a number of smaller off-shoot businesses. The Matanzas Creek winery, for instance, is home to a beautiful lavender garden from which they make a variety of products. In an effort to run a truly sustainable operation, grape-seed oil and cookies made from grape-seed flour are made using the leftovers from the wine production. And most recently, the winery planted an orchard of hazelnut and oak trees innoculated with the truffle fungus to start growing its own Perigord truffles.