One of the country's elite growers and vintners located in the Calistoga AVA
The naming of a winery can be of prime importance to the success of the entity involved. This Platinum Wine Club selection is the work of JAX Vineyards, an easily remembered name. JAX designates a pruning (no pun intended) of the name Jackson whose family members originated, funded and operated the resultant enterprise.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Some twenty-three years ago David Jackson purchased an exceptional dry-farmed vineyard above Calistoga in Napa Valley. Everyone who knew David Jackson swore he had an exceptionally green thumb. Shortly thereafter, Jackson’s son Trent contracted the wine bug and used his father’s grapes to produce some wines in his San Francisco garage.
Several years passed and since Trent Jackson was employed in technology, he soon realized his promising hobby required full time attention. In 2002, Trent turned to his sister Kimberly who had just received her MBA from Vanderbilt University. Kimberly Jackson embraced the idea of a winery with a blend of tenacity and passion. In 2003, she restructured the business, rebranded the wine, made placements in high quality restaurants on both coasts and received rave notices from the wine industry press. Oh yes, she was also responsible for obtaining distribution for JAX Vineyards in eight different states.
More recently, the replanting of some of the more than 40-year-old vines took priority for the company. In 2004, they began a three phase (7 year) replant. This strategy would assure that JAX Vineyards would never use fruit for its Cabernet Sauvignon from vines younger than 7-years-old. The last block was planted in 2010 and have produced useable grapes for the past few vintages.
“We use a sustainable approach to farming,” Kimberly Jackson Wickham stated. “We use cover crops to impart nutrients into the soils and only use organic compost. We harvest by hand to control our fruit quality and are extremely selective in only using the finest grapes for our wines. After the harvest, we drop 50% of our crop either during the growing season or through the hand selection process.”
Such business acumen has propelled JAX Vineyards to the very top of the list of Napa Valley wineries. From their original release of a smallish 200 cases, the venture has grown to an annual production around 12,000 cases. While this isn’t a boutique-like figure, it must be remembered that JAX Vineyards only produces extremely high quality wines. Many Napa Valley wineries would like to have their production admired in such lofty climes.
The Jackson Family story isn’t quite complete. Jane Jackson (David’s wife) is an incredible artist and designer and is partly responsible for JAX Vineyards’ label design as well as designing the provincial style tasting facility and grounds at in the hot new SoMa Section of San Francisco. The “wine oasis” as Kimberly Jackson Wickham describes it, features olive trees, 50-year-old vines from the estate in Calistoga and a fire pit that offers the Napa Valley experience to urban wine lovers. It is located near the corners of Brannan and 2nd Streets, some two blocks from AT&T Ballpark. Tastings and private events can be scheduled through the company’s website.
Perhaps the most important decision that Kimberly Jackson Wickham made for the company occurred quite early in JAX Vineyards’ evolution. She realized that for her company to evolve and prosper, she needed the help of a proven industry winemaker that could offer JAX access to some of Napa Valley’s premier growers.
She selected third-generation Winemaker Kirk Venge whose association began in 2004. Venge is a Rutherford-born and raised grower and winemaker from a famous winemaking family. Kirk Venge was also a proponent of dry farming in the mold of founder David Jackson. It is difficult to wander throughout Napa Valley without Kirk Venge’s name coming up and his following is among the largest in Northern California.
JAX Vineyards could easily be considered the ultimate success story. A son’s vision and his sister’s business acumen have made the Calistoga winery into one of the country’s elite growers and vintners.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
The critics are over the moon about the 2014 Napa Valley vintage. Antonio Galloni called the year “exceptional” in his December 2016 report, while James Suckling praised the wines as “extremely attractive” and “bright and sophisticated.” For some of the most densely concentrated and opulent releases of the vintage, look to the Calistoga AVA, which benefits from the most extreme diurnal temperature variation in Napa Valley and beautifully rich volcanic soil.
In this vintage our winemaker Kirk Venge produced an absolutely stunning Cab off these valley floor vines earning a glowing 93-point review from Parker. “This is super and a great value,” Parker wrote, and we won’t argue. Kirk knows the Calistoga appellation well; it’s where he broke ground for his own winery, in 2010. It’s not hard to see why — Calistoga boasts a litany of superlatives that make winemakers giddy. It has the most extreme diurnal temperature shift in all of Napa Valley, often seeing temperature changes of upwards of 50 degrees between night and day, making for wines of incredible phenolic ripeness. It has the highest percentage of volcanic soil of any Napa Valley AVA, lending magnificent concentration. Its vineyards are the steepest in Napa and sit on the most geologically uniform bedrock. And the list goes on.
The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes used to make this wine are from our family’s vineyard in northern Calistoga. My father David Jackson purchased the vineyard in the early 90’s after 5 years of searching for his ideal terroir encompassing alluvial loam soil, dry farmed vineyards, and the elemental protection of our little valley. The JAX name represents an updated twist and memorable abbreviation of our family name.
We hope that you will enjoy this beautiful wine with your family and friends. To taste the rest of the JAX Vineyards wines come by our tasting room in the heart of San Francisco or come to one of our many tasting events. We provide a unique Napa Valley experience in the city that is not to be missed.
Kimberly Jackson Wickam,