An appreciation: Jess Jackson

• This commentary by noted wine writer Lettie Teague in remembrance of winemaker and racing entrepreneur Jess Jackson who died this week at the age of 81 was published in The Wall Street Journal.

By Lettie Teague

When I met Jess Jackson a few years ago, I traveled not to Napa or Sonoma, but to the bluegrass country of Kentucky.

Jess had stipulated that my story should take place with his Stonestreet Farms as the setting, rather than one of his many wineries.

As one who shared his love of horses as well as wine, that was perfectly fine with me. In fact, I was thrilled. It was the first time that I’ve ever written a profile of a vintner that included a tour of a breeding shed, not to mention a trip to Belmont Racetrack to watch the great Curlin win the Woodward Stakes.

During our time together we talked as much about great race horses as we did great wine (perhaps a little bit more about the former, in fact).

But Jess Jackson was a different sort of vintner in so many ways.

He was a millionaire many times over, but more importantly he was a man driven by passion: for wine (Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve is still the most recognizable Chardonnay in this country decades after its debut), for land (he bought thousands of acres of vineyards all over California, and chiefly in Sonoma, his home) and for great horses, like Curlin and Rachel Alexandra.

[Go here for the rest of the commentary.]

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