Kendall-Jackson was founded in 1974 when Jess Jackson, a San Francisco attorney, bought an 80-acre orchard in Lake County and replanted it into a vineyard. His first commercial release was the 1982 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay which was immediately popular and critically acclaimed. Today the estate includes 10,545 acres and it produces numerous collections of wines. Though still known for its Chardonnay, it also produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and red and white blends. The long-time wine master at the estate is Randy Ullon. This estate is a major producer and Jackson, who died in 2011, went on to purchase other wineries in the region and around the world. Despite being part of a growing winemaking empire, Robert M. Parker Jr. wrote that the quality of the Kendall-Jackson estate wines is very high: “This is certainly an example of bigger being better.”
North Coast AVA includes California’s most prestigious sub-appellations and vineyards. The three million acre area includes vineyards in six counties north of San Francisco and nearly 50 sub-appellations. The Napa Valley and Sonoma County AVAs are just two of the renowned sub-appellations included in the North Coast designation, which also includes the AVAs Diamond Mountain District, Howell Mountain, Oakville, Stag’s Leap and Rutherford, which are all among the most acclaimed wine producing districts in California. The North Coast AVA designation is generally used for wines made by blending grapes grown in several counties or AVAs. The appellation includes part of the counties of Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Marin, Solano and Lake.
The Merlot grape is such a deep blue that it is named for the blackbird. It’s an early ripening grape and one of the primary varietals used In Bordeaux. Merlot is also grown in the "International style," which is harvested later to bring out more tannins and body.