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Jackson Family Wines announces major expansion into English wine industry

Jackson Family Wines has announced plans to begin producing English still and sparkling wine after hiring Gusbourne CEO Charlie Holland to oversee an ambitious project.

The California-based company, whose flagship brand is Kendall-Jackson, will initially produce vintage and non-vintage sparkling wine at a contract winemaking facility called Defined Wine in Kent.

It has purchased a large volume of 2022 base wine from across Kent and Sussex, and Holland will be tasked with turning it into high-quality sparkling wine.

Jackson Family Wines is also in the process of acquiring around 26ha in the Crouch Valley, which is located southeast of Chelmsford in Essex.

It will begin planting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines there, with plans to produce still and sparkling wines.

Holland was born and raised in England, but he spent time working in Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand and the United States.

He returned to his homeland in 2009 and spent four years as the winemaker at Ridgeview in Sussex, before moving to Gusbourne in Kent in 2013.

Holland initially served as chief winemaker at Gusbourne, but his role expanded in 2016, when he was also made CEO. Earlier this month, it was announced that the Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2018 has won a best in show medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2023.

He will join Jackson Family Wines in September 2023. ‘After 10 productive and thoroughly enjoyable years leading the amazing team at Gusbourne, I am thrilled to be joining Jackson Family Wines as they kickstart their new English wine venture,’ said Holland.

‘I believe England is the most exciting place in the world to be making wine right now and the prospect of doing this for a company with a proven commitment and track record of producing world-class wines around the globe is an enticing prospect.’

Gusbourne chair Jim Ormonde said the company is ‘enormously grateful’ to Holland, and added that the board will begin the search for his replacement immediately.

Jackson Family Wines is primarily renowned for its Kendall-Jackson brand, but it is actually an umbrella company for 40 wineries spread across Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Oregon, plus Australia, South Africa, Chile, France and Italy.

It owns more than 5,500 hectares of vineyards on a worldwide basis, so it is the first major still wine producer to invest in the English wine industry, following in the footsteps of Champagne Taittinger and Pommery.

Jackson Family Wines has recently been building up its holdings in the Pacific Northwest, having purchased two plots in Washington’s Walla Walla Valley and it believes England is the perfect fit for its focus on cool-climate production.

Chairman Barbara Banke, who co-founded Jackson Family Wines with her late husband, Jess Jackson, is also a leading figure in thoroughbred horseracing.

Stonestreet Farms, which her late husband founded, has bred Horse of the Year winners Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, along with winners of many prestigious G1 races around the world.

The family has become increasingly involved in the English horseracing business over the years, so setting up an English wine business was a natural progression.

‘I’ve been impressed with the quality of sparkling wines from the UK for years, which influenced our decision to develop premium sparkling and still wines here in England,’ said Banke, who added that the family has ‘a love of the UK’.

The company has not yet decided on a brand name for its English wines, but details should be unveiled soon.


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