Jess Jackson thrived on competition, and often confrontation.
It didn't matter whether it was the legal profession, where he was a high-powered trial lawyer, or wine, where he became an industry titan with a global empire, or horse racing, where his thoroughbreds challenged the best. He was one of the three most influential vintners of his times, right there with Ernest Gallo and Robert Mondavi.
I met Jackson in 1986, as an attorney, shortly after he had started K-J with the famous stuck fermentation, "sweet" Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay. At the time he represented Joseph Gallo, Ernest and Julio's younger brother, in their lawsuit. Joseph had started the Joseph Gallo cheese company; his brothers claimed a trademark infringement. Both sides claimed the right to the Gallo name and trademark, and Joseph, with Jackson's counsel, raised the ante, seeking a one-third interest in the Gallo winery, then worth about $1 billion.
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