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by Fred McMillin
for September 26, 2000

 

Jack's Back


Prologue

Jack London VineyardKenwood's pride and joy is the Jack London Vineyard on the western slopes of Sonoma Valley.

...The Wines of California, Stephen Brook

We have released the 1997 Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon...14,500 cases.

...Margie Healy, Kenwood Vineyards


The Rest of the Story

Stealing oysters for re-sale in San Francisco, sailing to Alaska to hunt seals at age 17, touring the U.S.A. courtesy empty box cars, Jack London could not possibly become the owner of a 14OO-acre ranch (with vineyards) in just a few short years.

But, back in San Francisco, he began to write. First, two pieces sold for $5 each. Another article collected 50 rejection slips. Then, at age 27, he wrote Call of the Wild. More novels like The Sea Wolf, and he was able to purchase his first 130 acres near Glen Ellen.

He worked his land eagerly, including its vineyard. of course, while he is gone now, both his words and his vineyard live on.


All In The Family

Jack London's grand-nephew became the modern guardian of the London ranch. Milo Shepard recalled, "I was born here on the London ranch; as long as I can remember there have been vineyards on this land." He found the climate and the soil to be most favorable, producing few problems. Nevertheless, his policy: "A grapevine is a living thing. As soon as it needs something, you take care of it."

Napa vintners recognized the quality of the grapes and bought them regularly. Then, over two decades ago, Kenwood signed a long-term, exclusive deal with Jack London Vineyard. Cabernet expert James Laube recalled that starting with the 1983 vintage, the London Cab "has shown dramatic improvement and is of excellent quality." So, the 1997 it our...


Wine of the Day

1997 Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon,
Sonoma Valley
Kenwood Vineyards, Kenwood, CA
Contact—Margie Healy, (707) 824-7715, FAX (707) 833-1146
Review—A few years ago the winery advised me the London Cab sold out so soon that they had stopped advertising it! Case closed.
Price—$35 range.


Postscript

Young Charmian Kittredge met Jack London on his first visit to Sonoma. It was 1904 and her uncle and aunt had invited the young author there to talk publishing. Later, he would marry Charmian, and they lived happily ever after on the ranch...until his shocking death at age 40.

She remained on the land they loved and 21 years later wrote:

    From my mountainside of aged vineyard and woodland I look over the Valley of the Moon, which was modernly so christened from my husband's novel of that name...ever hearing Jack's tribute; "A sweet land, Mate Woman, a sweet land."

Credits
J.P. Dutton, They Left Their Mark
Celeste Murphy, The People of the Pueblo
Diane Bulzomi, Research Assistance

 

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

 
 


This page created September 2000

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