Jess Jackson, the self-made billionaire who died at 81, will be remembered for his entrepreneurial spirit.
The key to Jackson’s success in the wine world was his realization that America’s soda-pop palate was poised for a sweeter-styled chardonnay. It all began with a quirky fermentation back in 1982 that produced a chardonnay with a sweet profile. The vintner began experimenting with this so-called “stuck fermentation,” a process in which all the sugar is not converted to alcohol. This sugar or natural fructose is what made the Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve chardonnay a standout for the masses.
I once had the opportunity to fly in Jess’ helicopter to see his vineyards and I was amazed that he owned swaths of mountains, some of the steepest real estate in California.
What I admired most about Jess was his ability to take a risk, no small feat for someone who grew up in the Depression era. Taking a risk may seem simple and yet too few of us are willing to do just that.