Beloved Sonoma County wine producer Kendall-Jackson combines the Jackson family’s passion for wine with their love of horse racing through a partnership with Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby®, featuring two commemorative wines.
Over the past 40 years, Kendall-Jackson has become one of the most beloved family-owned and operated wineries in the U.S., known for producing the country’s favorite Chardonnay. But less known is the Jackson family’s dedication to excellence in horse racing. Today, the family brings together these two passions through their partnership with Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby—and wine lovers can reap the benefits through a limited-edition Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Founded in 1982 by the late, visionary entrepreneur Jess Jackson, Kendall-Jackson continues to produce exceptional wines under the leadership of the Jackson family. Based in Sonoma County, Kendall-Jackson cultivates estate vineyards on the coastal ridges of California with the utmost care, resulting in pristine fruit to create high-quality wines, including America’s favorite Chardonnay.
With a goal of honoring the pursuit of excellence in horse racing and winemaking, Kendall-Jackson’s four-year partnership with Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby began with the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2021. Not only is Kendall-Jackson (along with another Jackson family wine, La Crema) one of the preferred wines of the Kentucky Derby, but it’s also poured at all Churchill Downs events.
The partnership is a natural one; alongside their love and commitment to winemaking, the Jackson family has been passionate about elite horse racing for decades. In fact, the family established Stonestreet Farm in 2005 on premium land in Lexington, Kentucky’s Bluegrass hills to develop quality Thoroughbreds with strength, stamina, and class.
Jess’ passion for horse racing was ignited as a young boy when he watched Seabiscuit win the 1938 Bay Meadows Handicap from atop his uncle’s shoulders. “Many years later, our success in the wine business afforded us the opportunity to indulge in his passion, which is now mine, for Thoroughbred racing,” says Barbara Banke, the chairman and proprietor of Kendall-Jackson.
The Jackson family’s Thoroughbreds have competed in the country’s top races many times—including last year, when Stonestreet’s Malathaat won the Kentucky Oaks—and of course, the family often celebrates with Kendall-Jackson wines. So, it was only fitting for the winery to create two small-lot, limited-edition, commemorative bottlings in partnership with the Kentucky Derby.
“It feels like a natural connection to bring our two great passions together on the global stage at the Kentucky Derby.” —Barbara Banke, chairman and proprietor, Kendall-Jackson
In celebration of the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Napa Valley and is aged in small oak barrels, creating a rich, elegant wine, while the 2020 Chardonnay hails from Mendocino County and uses lees stirring to create a velvety, creamy texture. The labels of these special cuvées feature Good Magic, one of the Jackson family’s celebrated racehorses, who finished second in the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Both are available at select national retailers and kj.com.
As the Preferred Wines of the Kentucky Derby, Kendall-Jackson will host the largest West Coast Kentucky Derby party at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens on Saturday, May 7th. Kendall-Jackson’s stunning four-acre culinary garden, expansive lawn and al fresco patio provide the perfect setting for the fun-filled day of wine, food, fashion, and entertainment. Event proceeds will benefit Sonoma County’s Meals on Wheels program.
Derby Day festivities at Kendall-Jackson include large-screen viewing of Kentucky Derby day races, fashion contests, an on-site milliner creating unique hats, and Derby-inspired Southern cuisine paired with award-winning Kendall-Jackson wines, including the limited edition co-branded Kendall-Jackson and Kentucky Derby® commemorative wines. The event wouldn’t be complete without iconic Mint Juleps. Young & Yonder Spirits, an artisan craft distillery from Healdsburg, will showcase their Straight Bourbon Whiskey in the signature cocktails, local favorite Seismic Brewing Company will be pouring their new release brews, Ferrero Golden Gallery Signature will offer sweet treats, and local restaurant partners will be offering small bites. Additional entertainment includes a raffle, live music, a bugle player, a coffee truck, a caricature artist and more. Reserve your ticket today.