Making compelling wine is about enabling the people in each of our wineries to tell a story with their wines.
Don Hartford is Vice Chairman of Jackson Family Wines. He, along with Barbara Banke, form the family’s two-member Board of Directors. Don grew up on a small strawberry farm in western Massachusetts and later attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. To cover the cost of tuition and expenses, Don worked as a "straw boss" on a cigar wrapper tobacco farm, a degreaser in a bicycle factory, and a lifeguard at Congamond Lakes in Massachusetts.
After earning his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Don spent a year teaching English as a second language in Spain, and later taught Spanish for four years in Massachusetts. Don met his wife, Jennifer Jackson Hartford, at Santa Clara University in Northern California in 1979 where both attended law school. Shortly thereafter, Jennifer's father Jess started a modest 16,000 case winery called Kendall-Jackson. In 1982, Don graduated with his law degree and went on to build a legal career that included working at a Tokyo law firm, a large San Francisco-based firm, Jess Jackson's constitutional law practice, at the California Supreme Court, and as a partner in a small country law firm.
Over the last twenty years, Don has been immersed in winemaking and winery management and in the process has returned to one of his first loves – the land and farming. “I taste the wine from each of our family’s Estates before it goes into the bottle, not to tell our winemakers how to make wine, but to understand the wine’s character and creative direction,” he says. Prior to serving in roles as Jackson Family Wines’ CEO and Board Member, Don served as General Legal Counsel for Jackson Family Wines, was President of La Crema Winery, and was the CEO of the family's Artisan and Estate Wineries.
Don and his wife Jenny, a co-proprietor of Jackson Family Wines, make their home in Sonoma County. They have two children, daughter Hailey and son MacLean, who are beginning their own chapters at Jackson Family Wines. Don and Jenny are also the founders of Hartford Family Winery, and, along with Hailey and MacLean, are its sole owners. The winery’s first vintage was 1994. Hartford Family Winery is a small Russian River Valley Winery which specializes in small bottlings of high-personality, single-vineyard Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and old vine Zinfandel.