One of the wine industry’s top executives and innovators, Jackson Family Wines Chairman & Proprietor Barbara R. Banke has spent the last two decades leading the company she co-founded with her late husband, wine icon Jess Jackson, while building and expanding some of the most beloved wineries in the nation.
The UCLA and Hastings Law School graduate is no stranger to juggling diverse workloads. A former land use and constitutional law attorney, Banke spent more than a decade arguing cases before the United States Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal, and raised three children with Jess (Katie, Julia and Christopher Jackson).
In addition to the flagship Kendall-Jackson and La Crema wineries, Banke and Jackson shaped nearly two dozen small, high-image wineries located across Sonoma, Napa, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Mendocino counties, including Arrowood, Byron, Cambria, Carmel Road, Edmeades, Freemark Abbey, La Jota, Matanzas Creek and Stonestreet. The Jackson family portfolio also includes the international properties of Chateau Lassègue in Bordeaux, Tenuta di Arceno and Arcanum in Tuscany, Calina in Chile and Yangarra Estates and the Hickinbotham Vineyard at Clarendon in Australia. In 2013, the Jackson family purchased property in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, including the acclaimed Zena Crown and Gran Moraine vineyards. In 2014, the family launched Capensis, from the Western Cape of South Africa.
Banke takes a hands-on role in the development and promotion of various Jackson Family wine estates, with a special focus on the company’s ultra-luxury wineries such as Lokoya, Cardinale, and Vérité, as well as new vineyard acquisitions, and a broad range of other business initiatives. In addition to the family’s wine holdings, Banke shares Jackson’s love of equestrian racing — their acclaimed stables, Stonestreet Farms in Kentucky, produced Horses of the Year Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, as well as Eclipse Award Winner My Miss Aurelia.
A well-known philanthropist, Banke and the Jackson Family are passionate advocates for education. She co-founded the Sonoma Paradiso Foundation and helped build the Sonoma Country Day School in Santa Rosa, and serves as a founding board member for Sonoma Academy, an independent college-prep high school recognized for academic rigor. She and Jackson also committed nearly $4 million to found the Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building at UC-Davis (opened summer 2013), a national center of excellence designed to train the next generation of winemakers in sustainability best practices. In addition, Banke and her family contributed $500,000 to help launch the Family Justice Center Sonoma County, providing help for victims of domestic violence, and she is a global ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.