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.”
Central Coast AVA is a huge wine producing area that extends from Santa Barbara County in the south to San Francisco in the north. With more than 100,000 vineyard acres, it includes parts of six counties near the Pacific Ocean. Nearly 20 smaller AVAs lie within the Central Coast AVA. Central Coast earned appellation status in 1985. Included in the appellation are parts of the counties of Contra Costa, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz. Nearly every grape varietal grown in California is grown somewhere in the Central Coast AVA, though Chardonnay accounts for nearly 50% of the entire wine grape crop.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.