Guide to Visiting Kendall-Jackson Winery

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens

Kendall-Jackson is one of the biggest names in California wine, and Sonoma County wine country is K-J’s home turf. There’s much more to visiting Kendall-Jackson Winery than wine tasting, though – it’s also an educational and culinary experience. 

Join the Court of K-J

in 1996, Jackson Family Wines purchased the former Chateau de Baun, a magnificent chateau-style winery estate at the gateway to northern Sonoma County wine country, just north of Santa Rosa. Though surrounded by lush gardens and vineyards, the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens is convenient to the 101 freeway and offers ample parking.

The chateau is lit up at night in front of a colorful sky from the setting sun
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens

You can explore the winery’s peaceful, park-like setting on self-guided tour or a guided tour with wine tasting, strolling through the rose gardens and vines, relaxing in a gazebo surrounded by mature trees, and reveling in the delights of the fragrant “sensory gardens.”

Inside the modern visitor center you’ll find a vertigo-inducing video loop display that swoops and plunges across Kendall-Jackson’s many mountainside vineyards, which stretch throughout Sonoma County and beyond. 

The Range of Kendall-Jackson Wines 

A line up of many wines, whites and reds, that Kendall jackson produces are showcased on a table with flowers

Everybody familiar with the supermarket wine section knows K-J’s Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. 

But for those who’ll have nothing to do with the buttery, oaky style that made K-J a household name, the Avant Chardonnay is aged in equal parts stainless steel and ‘neutral’ barrels that do not impart a woody essence, but round out the crisp edges of its fresh pear flavor. The Grand Reserve Chardonnay is a step up from the familiar Vintner’s, having soft caramel and crisp lemon flavors in lesser amounts and higher quality.

Jackson Estate and Stature Cabernet Sauvignon round out the selection of K-J’s top wines with more limited availability. Both signature tastings and estate tastings  are usually available without appointment, but go ahead and check with the winery before you get there.

Food Pairings and Tips for Visitors 

The vegetable and herb garden at its peak in the summer time

One of K-J’s greatest attractions is its gourmet food and wine pairing program. May through October, the winery holds a Farm-to-Table dinner series with seasonal menus prepared by Executive Chef Justin Wangler and featuring produce from the extensive onsite culinary gardens. Wine-and-cheese and wine- and-chocolate pairings also are available.

Between courses and tastes, wander through the Kendall-Jackson demonstration vineyard, originally planted by viticulture students at Santa Rosa Junior College, to study up on the difference between Pinot Meunier and Merlot. 

Just in case there’s a test: ampelography is the practice of identifying grapevines, beginning with the shape of the leaves. When it’s close to harvest, grape clusters provide you with a few hints, too.

Meet the Winemaker

A man with a grey beard and mustache stands in front of green vineyards
Randy Ullom, Winemaster

Kendall-Jackson actually has many winemakers but only one wine master. Since 1997, Randy Ullom has coordinated winemaking operations for this large but family-owned company. You can find an in-depth interview with Kendall-Jackson winemaster Randy Ullom here.

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton, 707-576-3810. 

 

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