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. More than 40 years ago, in the 1970s, 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.
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 classes at UC Davis Enology school, going on endless drives through all key vineyard growing regions in California and loading barrels in the back seat of the “Yellow Banana,” the family’s used yellow Cadillac convertible, to deliver the barrels to the vineyard 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. By the time she graduated in 1982, Jess had just begun to make Kendall-Jackson wines, and instead of asking Jennifer to work at his law office, he asked her to help with marketing, sales and communications for the new winery. She remembers accompanying him to meet with bankers to secure the winery’s first loans, as well as month-long marketing trips across the United States to remote markets that didn’t always live up to the romantic notion that most associate with the thought of wine sales. In fact, Jenny remembers pouring wines at a retail shop surrounded by a barbed wire fence in the middle of Watts during the 1980s. But, over time, Jenny’s passion for wines and her family’s wine businesses has only increased.
Jenny remains a co-proprietor of Jackson Family Wines and her husband, Don Hartford, is vice chair of Jackson Family Wines. Don and Jenny have two children, daughter Hailey and son MacLean, who are beginning their own chapters at Jackson Family Wines. Hailey, along with her husband, Max Murray, works alongside the marketing and sales teams. MacLean is focused on college studies.
Jenny and Don are also the founders of Hartford Family Winery, and with Hailey and MacLean, its sole owners. Hartford Family Winery is a small winery located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County that specializes in small bottlings of high-personality, single vineyard Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Old Vine Zinfandels.