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Leaders of Tomorrow: Christopher Jackson

Author: William Rohrs
November, 2017 Issue

“I came back because I love the industry I’m in. Wine is biblical. It’s agricultural, scientific, business, legal and multicultural.”

These are the words of Christopher Jackson, proprietor of Stonestreet Vineyards in Alexander Valley. Son of legendary wine pioneers Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke, Jackson grew up in a family inundated by the wine industry. With so much exposure to the winemaking process, it perhaps came as a surprise when Jackson announced he would be going into law school and become a lawyer.

“I believe law is a noble profession,” he says. “I was always fascinated that we live in a country that believes in a peaceful transition of power; we shaped a government in the belief we should share the responsibility of governing. But the surprising thing was, the more I studied law, the more I found how laws applied to business. In some ways, they have the same purpose: they’re created to enforce, enrich or empower the communities they apply to.”

While studying at law school, Jackson fell in love and married Ariel, a longtime friend and fellow law student. After they received their Juris Doctorates, Jackson made the decision to come back to Wine Country, where he took over management of Stonestreet Vineyards, which was established by the Jacksons in 1989. Jackson works with a world-class team of wine industry experts, and is now applying his legal knowledge to the world of vineyard management.

Stonestreet produces high-caliber wines. When Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate wrote his review card, the 14 wines he tasted scored at least 90 points, with almost half above 95.

“This is wholly a collaborative event. I couldn’t do any of this without the team by my side, which trusts my judgment, but also enhances it through their own experiences,” he says. “I may have grown up planting and pruning vineyards, but

if there’s anything I’ve learned at my position here, it’s that wine is a Socratic industry: the more you think you know about it, the more you realize you have so much more to learn.”

Like his parents before him, Jackson hopes to leave a legacy of principle and trust for his children. “The way I like to see it is through the eyes of this Petit Syrah vine we have at another of our properties; it’s 150 years old. When we celebrate its 200th year, I’ll be a grandparent and I hope my children will be making wine from it. We are lucky to live in an area with so much cultural diversity and international expertise; it’s my hope that one day, I’ll be able to say I helped add Alexander Valley to that list of world-renowned AVAs.”

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