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A Man and His Mountain: The Everyman Who Created Kendall-Jackson and Became America's Greatest Wine Entrepreneur [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Edward Humes , Mel Foster


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Book Description

22 Oct 2013
The story of self-made billionaire Jess Jackson, who put Chardonnay on America's tables as he built the Kendall--Jackson wine empire from a few mountainous acres of grapes, and raced the Horse of the Year three years in a row, is a remarkable tale of romance, risk, and reinvention--perhaps the greatest second act in the history of American business. Jess Stonestreet Jackson was one of a small band of pioneering entrepreneurs who put California's Wine Country on the map. His life story is a compelling slice of history, daring, innovation, feuds, intrigue, talent, mystique, and luck. Admirers and detractors alike have called him the Steve Jobs of wine--a brilliant, infuriating, contrarian gambler who seemed to win more than his share by anticipating consumers' desires with uncanny skill. Time after time his decisions would be ignored and derided, then envied and imitated as competitors struggled to catch up. He founded Kendall--Jackson with a single, tiny vineyard and a belief that there could be more to California Wine Country than jugs of bottom-shelf screw-top. Today, Kendall--Jackson and its 14,000 acres of coastal and mountain vineyards produce a host of award-winning wines, including the most popular Chardonnay in the world, which was born out of a catastrophe that nearly broke Jackson. The empire Jackson built endures and thrives as a family-run leader of the American wine industry. Jess Jackson entered the horseracing game just as dramatically. He brought con men to justice, exposed industry-wide corruption in court and Congress, then exacted the best revenge of all: race after race, he defied conventional wisdom with one high-stakes winner after another, capped by the epic season of Rachel Alexandra, the first filly to win the Preakness in nearly a century, cementing Jackson's reputation as America's king of wine and horses.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (22 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1480504181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1480504189
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 16.5 x 2.5 cm

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Review

"Humes makes his charismatic subject's every venture vividly and intensely dramatic. This book will attract readers of diverse interests, from the law to wine-making to business to horse-racing." -- Booklist "A well-rounded, absorbing narrative of entrepreneurship, wine and the extraordinary man who made it all happen." -- Kirkus Review, starred "Thoroughly engaging... this biography is as well-suited for those interested in people as those interested in wine." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune "A classic American story--a man of the people becomes one of the greatest visionaries and qualitative titans the wine world has ever witnessed. Very highly recommended." --Robert M. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate "With dexterity and style, Edward Humes captures Jess Jackson, making his larger-than-life personality come alive and his rollercoaster story jump off the pages. A Man and His Mountain shows the inspiration, boundless energy, and tenacity that Jess Jackson embodied, but also the real man who was in ways like the rest of us, fallible and human. I expected a book about a winery, but what I got was an exciting, motiving, and epic journey of a man with laughs, tears, and surprises." --Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, master of wine, author of The One Minute Wine Master --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Edward Humes is a Pulitzer Prize--winning journalist and author of twelve other nonfiction books, including No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court, a PEN Award recipient; Mississippi Mud; Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution; Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash; and School of Dreams, named by the Washington Post as a best book of the year. His writings have appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, and Sierra. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Made in America 9 Nov 2013
By BookVodney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jess Jackson a lawyer at the twilight of his career purchases a small pear & walnut orchid just next to California's wine valley. He decides to grow grapes as a potential retirement job when one cold evening he is confronted with a broken watering system resulting in a cold night time scuba dive to unclog a filter and save his crop. He reflects on this difficulty and ponders: "why the trouble for other wineries and not his own". This moment is the beginning of a transformation of the American wine industry from cheap swill to world class vintages.

I like the pace of this book. It reads very well while taking you into the strong character of a man with vision and drive. Jess Jackson a man in his middle 50's develops a unique blended Chardonnay that takes the country by storm in the early 80's. A big risk and a huge success which drove him into a steep growth curve by buying up and capturing the California Wine Industry before anyone else.

Jess Jackson turns his life & family upside down on his 54 birthday by leaving his wife because of her reluctance to risk everything on his dream. He goes head first - changing the course of the American wine industry. Jackson a smart lawyer & gambler had total confidence in his vision by betting everything to deliver the Kendal-Jackson wine brand.

Jess the horse track gambler visits the Kentucky Oak's (the Kentucky Derby for the 3 year old fillies) held yearly at Churchill Downs (1 day prior to the Derby), and is impressed by the massive led of a thoroughbred named: Rachel Alexandra. He spends millions to buy her, and then races her weeks later in the Preakness & wins! Again, a newcomer taking a big risk by racing a Filly among colts - a filly hasn't won since Seabiscuit took it in 1938.

The book is short (300 plus pages) and to the point. I would of liked a little more detail about the in's/outs of grape growing and winery operation, but that does not diminish this fabulous book. I recommend it, and believe those interested in business, fresh starts, risk taking, and pure guts should read this book. Edward Humes a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist shows his writing talent by describing the complex man Jess Jackson's climb to the top and his contribution to "Made in America".
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Read, and not a hagiograph either... 22 Oct 2013
By Eric Hall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very well written, and for this genre it is reasonably honest and unblinking about it's subject. Given that Jess Jackson was obviously a great bay area pioneer in wine, law & real estate, and by most accounts a man with a tough exterior, an authorized biography with the necessary access to the family regarding a recently deceased family member could easily slip into a worshipful whitewash.
Thankfully this book does not do that.
Being in the wine industry I sure wish someone would write a book with the kind of thoroughness that Robert Caro does on Lyndon Johnson et al, because all these books seem a little light on substance to me.
That being said, I thought it was way more interesting than the recent "Barefoot Way" book was, but I think we probably did not get to see enough of Jackson's real genius, namely the art (and science) of his deals. I loved that part about how he nailed the Cambria Vineyard.
It's worth the 3 hour or so read for sure, and I hopefully await the definitive history of the California Wine Industry with Jess Jackson and others, in the vein of Caro's the "Power Broker", now THAT was a real biography.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting to locals 24 Dec 2013
By John Maderious - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am local, in Sonoma County, so many of the names and places were familiar to me, so it was interesting from that perspective. And, the story was good. Essentially, blind ambition and a good dose of luck result in a billionaire. JM
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jess Jackson Showed Us Real Men Don't Abuse Women 11 Oct 2014
By Jennifer Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I just finished A Man and His Mountain. What a powerful book. I was struck by the honesty of Jess Jackson about domestic violence and child abuse in his life growing up and his determination to break the cycle in his own life and the lives of his children. He will have many legacies but none will be more significant than his children and grandchildren living free of violence and abuse. His determination and passion for life should inspire all of us.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wine and Racing Emperor 5 Feb 2014
By hagrid - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great story about how a non-wine person became one of the greatest wine empire owners of all time. Jess Jackson and his family created Kendall-Jackson and many boutique wineries that produce some of the best wines in the world at all price breaks. It covers his positives and negatives (yes there are plenty). In doing so he changed the status quo in the wine industry and also did the same exposing questionable business practices in thoroughbred racing also. A fascinating driven person who also was quite gruff .
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