Wine isn’t just something that Julia Jackson enjoys with dinner, or on a night out with friends. It’s not something she just picks up a bottle of on her way home from work. For Julia Jackson, wine is a way of life. In fact, wine is life. Now, with the Jackson family owning 583-acres of land in Oregon, we had the opportunity to speak with Julia regarding the distinct terroir or Oregon’s Willamette Valley and how it differs from the other renowned Pinot Noir Regions.
Alongside Julia were panelists that included Eugenia Keegan (Gran Moraine), Craig McAllister (La Crema), Lynn Penner-Ash (Penner-Ash), Ryan Zepaltas (Siduri), Tony Rynders (Zena Crown), Julia Jackson (Proprietor of Jackson Family Wines) and moderator Gilian Handelman (Jackson Family Wines Director of Wine Education).
So what makes Oregon the place to be for its Pinot Noir? Well, all would agree that it is all about the soil and having an understanding of mother nature up there in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also an ideal location for its clean, crisp and cool air, along with the influence that the soil has on the wine – the sedimentary soil and volcanic soil. Not only that, but Oregon’s Willamette Valley won the 2016 Wine Star Award for “Wine Region of the Year.”
The Wine Star Awards are known as some of the most influential in the entire wine industry. Each year since 2000, the editors of Wine Enthusiast recognize and celebrate individuals, companies and regions that have made exceptional achievements and contributions in the wine world. Other 2016 nominees for Wine Region of the Year included Champagne, France; Crete, Greece; Sonoma County, California and Provence, France.
Being the Proprietor of Jackson Family Wines, Julia Jackson has worked across numerous areas at Jackson Family Wines. She is the middle daughter of Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke and is proud to play a major role in the rebrand of such family-owned international wineries, such as Arcanum, as well as Tenuta di Arceno. Over the last year Julia has been focused on venues within the country, including Santa Maria-based Cambria Estate Winery. The property holds special meaning for her family, as the first winery established after the 1983 launch of flagship brand Kendall-Jackson, and also for Julia Jackson, the inspiration for Cambria’s award-winning Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Being an artist at heart, Julia brings a highly developed aesthetic to her work, from redesigning websites for wineries to painting wine labels herself, to helping shape the look and feel of various brands. She’s a natural at it. Julia demonstrates grace and is soft-spoken, with a sharp mind for business.
Julia was born in San Francisco in 1988, and has fond memories growing up of her father instilling lessons of hard work by making his three children pick and sort grapes in the heat while he explained the importance of maintaining a hard work ethic throughout life. Growing up, Julia worked at several of the family wineries, including those in France, immersing herself in a language and culture that she continues to love. Her fluency led to teaching French to sixth-graders while an undergraduate at Scripps College, where she also did some modeling through several Los Angeles agencies. After earning a bachelor’s degree in studio art, she attended the intensive Summer Institute for General Management program at Stanford University.
Post-graduation, Julia traveled to Bordeaux, France, where she learned about French sales and distribution and worked at the Jackson family-owned Château Lassègue. She had the opportunity to shadow Nicolas Seillan during meetings with the esteemed French négociant Mahler-Besse and learned about the global markets and the industry more in depth. Sometimes, she’d work 14-hour days, doing everything from picking and sampling grapes to working the sorting table, doing pump-overs, punch-downs and yeast-adds. Her stay in Bordeaux reinforced her desire to learn more about wine, and upon returning home she completed a Master Sommelier introductory course with her sister in Sonoma.
Often times, Julia would travel with the international sales team to wine shows, including France’s VinExpo, and has learned first-hand the challenges and opportunities of reaching Asian markets through trips to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. Julia believes that Jackson Family Wines is so much more than a family owned wine company. She’s states that they are risk-taking innovators with a strong belief that quality is paramount and that they will always be a family-owned wine company.