Jess Jackson passed away on April 21, 2011 at the age of 81. We all know of him as the wine icon of Kendell-Jackson Wine Estates. I knew him through being an African American wine lover who had her first glass of chardonnay many years ago, and it had the Kendall-Jackson label, Vintner's Reserve on the bottle. Many people experienced K-J chardonnay in a positive way, getting a quality wine for a price that they could afford. I always liked that about Kendall-Jackson wines; they were made accessible for all who wanted to experience a quality wine and be a part of the wine and food culture. Jess Jackson would coin slogans to express how he felt about his wines, my favorite is " A Taste of the Truth."
I did not have the opportunity to meet Mr. Jackson, but if I did I would tell him, "Thank you." He and his staff supported my wine and food writing from the start, at a time when there were not many African American wine writers/bloggers around. I started a newsletter entitled, "Life's Little Luxuries Newsletter." The focus was to create some diversity in the world of wine. I began the newsletter in New Orleans, my hometown until Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in August of 2005.
I brought a sample of my newsletter to a Napa Valley Wine tasting in 2005 in Uptown New Orleans. It was a wonderful event, which was a gift from a dear friend of mine, Donna. She has always encouraged me in anything I've wanted to do; but she really knew this meant a lot to me, so off we went. My newsletter was well received by many wineries, and that is how my wine and food writing began. Kendall-Jackson supported me in New Orleans and even after my evacuation to Little Rock, sponsoring events that I coordinated in Little Rock, AR and just checking on me and my family. I will never forget that about Jess Jackson and his staff. I even have a Christmas card of the vineyard with white Christmas lights on the vines that the PR staff signed. Those personal connections meant so much to me and made me think that Jess Jackson must have been a kind man. We generally hire people who remind us of ourselves, so he had to be a kind man.
So, farewell Jess Jackson; you will always hold a place in my heart. I did not get the opportunity to meet you, but I feel through your company's good works that I've always known you.
Here is a sample of my older reviews of Kendall-Jackson wines; it brings back sweet memories...
Lorrie’s Wine Picks
This wine is the epitome of what a well- balanced chardonnay should be. The wine is medium bodied with a mixture of tropical flavors including pineapple and a creaminess, which makes the finish go on and on..This wine went well with a shrimp appetizer I prepared as well with any shellfish dish. This wine is highly recommended.
Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve 2003 Merlot, $26.00
Dark fruit, especially plums, cocoa, and notes of cedar describe this well-balanced wine. It has lots of character that reminds one why they fell in love with Merlot for the first time. This wine is highly recommended. It pairs well with beef, Fontina cheese, cheddar, chocolate desserts or alone.
Favorite Wine Quote: "Wine is a lifestyle that chooses you, and then you marry!"
Lorrie S. LeBeaux