Jennifer Jackson Hartford
I’m constantly inspired by the passion, hard work and vision for quality our family has embraced from the very beginning, from the grapes on the vines to the wine in the bottle.
Jennifer (Jenny) Jackson Hartford is Jess Jackson’s oldest daughter. She is co-proprietor of Jackson Family Wines, and her husband, Don Hartford, is Vice Chairman of the company. More than 40 years ago, when Jenny and her sister Laura were teenagers, they began their participation in the family business by helping to plant the family’s first vineyard in Lake County, California, in 1974. Meanwhile, Jenny earned a degree in Public Administration and Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon, in 1977.
At the time, Jenny thought her enlistment by her father to plant vines was simply motivated by his desire to distract her from her teenage boyfriend. But she soon learned how very serious her father had become about farming and wine. Planting vineyards eventually led to more work, such as taking enology classes at UC Davis, going on endless family drives through key vineyard regions in California, and loading barrels in the back seat of the “Yellow Banana,” the family’s used yellow Cadillac, to help her father make practice lots of the family’s first wines.
Jenny entered law school in 1979, planning to follow in her father’s footsteps as a successful attorney. There, she met her husband Don Hartford on the first day – and they’ve been together ever since. By the time she graduated in 1982, Jess had just begun to make Kendall-Jackson wines, and instead of asking Jenny to work at his law office, he asked her to help with marketing, sales, and communications for the new winery. “The core family values that we embraced from the very beginning included an appreciation of the family table, cemented by great food and wine that we actually helped produce ourselves,” she says. “The creation of Kendall-Jackson established that sense of home.”
Jenny remembers accompanying Jess (her father) to meet with bankers to secure the winery’s first loans, as well as month-long marketing trips to remote U.S. markets that didn’t always live up to the romantic “wine lifestyle.” But driven by her father’s vision to bring top quality wines to all audiences, Jenny continued to spread the word about Kendall-Jackson, pouring wines at a restaurants and retail shops across the United States. As the Jackson family’s portfolio has grown over the years, Jenny’s passion for wine and her family’s wineries has continued to grow as well.
Jenny and Don have two children, daughter Hailey and son MacLean, who are beginning their own chapters at Jackson Family Wines. Jenny and Don 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.