In 1996, green thumb David Jackson purchased an exceptional 28 year old, dry farmed vineyard in northern Calistoga. Having developed a great eye for detail as a former successful printing executive, David now refocuses these qualities on managing his vineyard. Shortly after David purchased the vineyard, his entrepreneurial son, Trent got inspired to build on his father’s dream. Using the grapes from his father’s vineyard, Trent bottled and produced his first vintage in his San Francisco garage. An award winner? No, but there was promise here and an even greater determination to make wine. Trent immediately enlisted cult winemaker Kirk Venge to take over.
By the late 90’s, Trent’s focus on quality and limited production attracted a loyal word of mouth following. However working full time in technology, Trent soon began to realize that his promising hobby required full time attention. In 2002, Trent turned to his sister Kimberly, a newly minted MBA who co-founded the wine club at Vanderbilt University. Without hesitation, Kimberly jumped into the business with tenacity and passion. Within one year, Kimberly restructured the business, rebranded the wine, placed the wine in top restaurants in the Bay Area and New York, received great press, and established distribution in 8 states. The vision is to produce high quality wines, with a chic label, and fair price point. Kimberly asserts that “the next generation is looking for a modern brand, great quality, and a good story.”
Now we are distributed in 26 states including Canada. Our production averages 8,000 cases per year among all varietals. By early 2004, when Kimberly mastered her JAX Cabernet Sauvignon, she realized that it was time to expand production and branch into additional varietals. Kimberly’s stylistic vision is to produce high quality wines that “accurately reflect their varietal.” In other words, she focuses on making wines that are not over-styled by excessive oak or malolactic fermentation. To people who prefer the “butterball” styles, Kimberly poses, “We source from super premium fruit sources so why would I mask the delicate fruit layers from shining through?”
Soon thereafter Kimberly sought veteran winemaker Rob Hunter who shares that same philosophy. Now a team, Rob and Kimberly have access to some of Napa Valley’s premier vineyards, they decided to branch out and source from the best vineyards throughout Napa Valley. To differentiate from the estate JAX Cabernet Sauvignon, she launched JAX “Y3” representing her new varietal portfolio. “This gives us the liberty and flexibility to seek the very best vineyards for each varietal that we carry under the Y3 label. The Y3 symbol was the cattle symbol used on our grandparents’ cattle ranch, Yarrayne. Trent and I wanted to pay tribute to three generation as land-tilling entrepreneurs.” Currently Kimberly offers a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and soon to be released Taureau, a Cabernet Sauvignon blend under the Y3 label.
Kimberly Jackson Wickam, CEO and co-owner, manages the winery on a daily basis. After a successful decade stint in technology, Kimberly earned her MBA at Vanderbilt and took over the business in 2003. From the day she stepped in (at 200 cases in production), Kimberly handled every function of the business. Now that JAX has grown to 8,000 cases in production, she shares the responsibility with her incredibly devoted team. Her passion and vision is clear when she shares her story. She loves to speak about her experiences building her business and her philosophy going forward.
Trent Jackson, co-owner and founder, is now involved in real estate development in Australia. Trent joins regular JAX conference calls and has been instrumental in our marketing, sales, and distribution strategy. Eventually Trent hopes to become more involved in the daily operations.
Kirk Venge is the Jax winemaker. A Napa Valley native and second generation winemaker, Kirk has been exposed to the world of winemaking from day one under the watchful eye of his father, Nils Venge. His passion for the industry continued to grow through college at UC Davis followed by tenures at several wineries including Mumm, Raptura Vintners in New Zealand, and finally Venge Vineyards. Working with our vineyards since 2003, Kirk has a keen involvement in the redevelopment, clone selection and farming practices of our vineyard site. Most importantly, he crafts our fruit into the elegant and well balanced wines that we enjoy year over year.
Our site is nestled at the foot of Mt. St. Helena just south of Knights Valley. Our 40+ year old vines sit in dry farmed, bale loam soil on an alluvial plain topography. Under vineyard consultant Kelly Maher and Kirk’s watchful eye, we have replanted half of the vineyard using the newest clone technology most suitable for our specific terroir. In 2004, we planted 5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon clone 337 and rootstalk 101-14. We planted the clone 337 to add depth and texture to our traditional, more old world Bordeaux style. Kirk and Kelly assert that “the 337 serves to brighten the fruit profile in the mid palate resulting in a harmonious melange of fruit profiles.”
We also planted a total of 1 acre consisting of both Cabernet Franc clone 327 Rootstalk 101-14 and Petit Verdot clone 400, rootstalk 101-14. The Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot are blended into our JAX Cabernet Sauvignon as well.