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A conversation with Katie Jackson


Katie Jackson is Jess Jackson’s eldest daughter with Barbara Banke (she has a sister, Julia, and brother, Chris, as well as two half-sisters, Jenny and Laura, from Jackson’s first marriage). After a period of mourning, the 25-year old, who describes herself as the Cambria Winery spokesperson, is visible. We talked about her evolving role in the Jackson Family companies, and the lessons learned from her father, who died April 21.

Tell me about working in the company.

Previous to this, I worked the 2007 harvest at Stonestreet. That was the first I ever worked harvest or anything, although I’d worked several years in the marketing department of Jackson Family Farms. But this was the  first time I worked fulltime for the company in any way. Then I shadowed my parents at lot, trying to learn the business. I worked a harvest in Australia last year, ay Yangarra, one of our wineries. That was incredible. I went with my fiance, whom I’d met at Stonestreet. As soon as I got back, I started working in the PR dept at Jackson Family, under Caroline [Shaw]. It was my choice, but actually Caroline wanted me to get involved–she thought it would be good for me to learn that part of the business. My dad had always wanted all three of us to learn various parts of the business, to get a good idea of where we wanted to work, if we did want to work in the company.

Did you always know you would work in the company?

They’ve been having that conversation with me since I was little. My dad wanted all three of us to work in the business. As we were growing up, my dad was always encouraging us to go into it. For a long time I didn’t know if I wanted to or not. I always wanted to be a writer–short stories, poetry–always wanted to be a novelist. But the business was also interesting as well. And working harvest in ‘07 was the turning point–I got to learn how to make wine and found that really fascinating. I figured I could always write on the side.

What do you see yourself doing eventually in the company?

Good question! I haven’t fully answered that yet. I really am interested in the production side–winemaking, grapegrowing. And what my parents do was, they’ve tried to teach us everything there is, to learn about each department. So I’ll get a better sense of that as I get more experience. But right now I love what I’m doing–to put my passion for writing to good use by writing.

You live in Healdsburg, so why work at [Santa Barbara-based] Cambria?

Because I wanted to focus on one thing at a time, and I figured working with Cambria would be a good way to do that. The other thing is Cambria is our second oldest winery, and I grew up visiting it a lot with our family.

What are Chris and Julia doing?

Julia is also working part-time with Caroline attending events and blogging for K-J [], while Chris just graduated from college in poly sci, so he’s interested in interning in DC. He wants an MBA but he’s also interested in politics.

What is Barbara’s role? Is she active in day to day management?

She’s very active, really busy with everything. She’s chairman of the board, supervising everything. But she’s been doing that for years, along with my brother-in-law, Don [Hartford], and Dad.

Is there a succession plan?

Yes, there is. All three of us, as well as Jenny’s two kids. So the plan for us five is, we will own a percentage of the business and will be involved in all the brands. My dad talked earlier about splitting up the company and having each of us take a piece, but in the end he thought it would be better for all of us to work together. My parents always told us if we didn’t want to work in the business, we didn’t have to. But they also thought we could own the business even though we were doing something else. But I’ll stay in it, and so will my sister and brother.

What lessons did you learn from your father?

Some of the best things I learned from him [were] my dad had a very high ethical standard he held himself to and the rest of us. He believed in having integrity and doing the right thing, and he wanted us to run the business in a way we earned the trust of the consumer and we would keep that trust. He believed in quality, not quantity–he was a bit of a perfectionist, and we’ve inherited that as well, to do the best you can possibly do, and be good people. He would always say if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life. And he wanted us to be happy and follow our passions, which is what he’d always done. So he encouraged us to do the things we care about. And he wanted us to give back to the community–that was a big value to us, quietly–he didn’t want to take credit for what he was doing. And be a hard worker.

Katie Jackson blogs for Cambria at

  1. Timothy A Smith says:

    This is a way a family should be raised, with high standards, but freedom to make choices for themselves.

    Salute to Mr. Jackson…Yes he made mistakes, after all he was human, but we are all better for what he had done for the wine consumer and industry.

  2. What a very sweet interview, and it’s also quietly enlightening. We all have known Katie’s larger-than-life dad, and now the new generation moves forward.

    Thanks, Steve, for this interview. (Wish I has thought of it, which tells you that it was a great idea!)

  3. I really enjoyed the interview with Katie.
    I met her last month in San Diego, and she was a lovely person.
    Glad to see the next generation picking up the reins (or the vines, as the case may be…)


    Nannette Eaton

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