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A Man and his Mountain: The Everyman who Created Kendall-Jackson and Became America’s Greatest Wine Entrepreneur Hardcover – October 22, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161039285X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610392853
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Whatever Jess Jackson touched seemed to turn to profit, whether lawsuits, grapes, or horses. Compelled to work from childhood on, he proved resourceful and able, overcoming Depression-era poverty and an abusive father before emerging as a successful real-estate attorney. A chance encounter on an airplane offered the lawyer an opportunity to buy some northern California land and thus fulfill a longstanding ambition to become a farmer. Throwing himself into wine-making, he created the now-renowned Kendall-Jackson brand. Passionate and even ruthless, Jackson sought out the best talents and finest vineyards in California’s emerging wine business and made chardonnay a household word in America. Then he turned to owning winning racehorses. Triumph came not without personal costs—a shattered marriage and agonizing brushes with business failure. 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. --Mark Knoblauch

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

Customer Reviews

I like the pace of this book.
BookBob
This book was insightful regarding the California wine industry and the growth of the US industry in general and a driving force the man Jackson.
Randal Troupe
Very well written, and for this genre it is reasonably honest and unblinking about it's subject.
Eric Hall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By BookBob on November 8, 2013
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eric Hall on October 22, 2013
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Maderious on December 24, 2013
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
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Anderson on October 11, 2014
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hagrid on February 5, 2014
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michele at WineDirectSolutions on December 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jackson was a maverick who made his own large path into the arena of commercial wine and his biography details an important chapter of wine in America. As it is written from his own advantage point, this book is an approachable tribute to an interesting man.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Debbie on March 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was great. It gave me a look into the production of wine that I didn't know. Not only the history of California wines but what it is like today. I will be visiting wine country in a month and am so glad I read this first. I highly recommend it
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Whitelaw on December 29, 2013
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I was hooked with Humes Eco Barons and certainly not disappointed with this one. Jess Jackson is was a real man with faults like is all but truly amazing. Inspired by how he made a life out of his passions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

QUICK STORY: A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, Edward Humes' latest books are A MAN AND HIS MOUNTAIN (Public Affairs, October 2013), the biography of winemaking legend Jess Jackson, and GARBOLOGY: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash (Avery/Penguin, April 2012). His other books include the PEN Award-winning NO MATTER HOW LOUD I SHOUT: A Year In the Life of Juvenile Court, the bestseller MISSISSIPPI MUD, FORCE OF NATURE: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution, and MONKEY GIRL: Evolution, Education, Religion and the Battle for America's Soul.

BACK STORY: When I was six I decided I wanted to be a writer, and I've been at it ever since. I started my writing career in newspapers, and I think I probably would have paid them, instead of the other way around, for the thrill of seeing my first byline in print. As a newspaper reporter, I gravitated toward stories that allowed me to dig behind the scenes and beneath the surface, looking for questions others hadn't asked or imagined. For me, the job amounted to this: license to find out the things I had always wanted to know, about anything and everything that interested, touched or outraged me. Then, within the space and time limitations of a daily newspaper, I had the chance to mold it all into a story to pass onto others. I loved that work.

When I left newspapers to write nonfiction books, I suddenly had weeks or months, rather than hours or days, to immerse myself in the inner workings of the places, characters and events I seek to understand and write about. I had found the greatest job I can imagine.

In my books, I try to take readers inside worlds most don't get to visit or see close up on their own. My first stories were about crime -- real-life murder mysteries-- and I still enjoy reading and writing true crime. But I've pursued broader and more varied narratives in my more recent books. I've written about the nation's crumbling juvenile justice system, the California high school that went from worst to best in the state, the harrowing but surprisingly humane world of a neonatal intensive care unit, the front lines of a modern-day Scopes Monkey Trial, a Gulf Coast murder mystery solved by the victims' own daughter.

Lately - in ECO BARONS, FORCE OF NATURE and GARBOLOGY - I've focused on narratives about the environment and sustainability. I believe this to be the most important story of our age - for ourselves, and for our children.

But after immersing myself in trash for GARBOLOGY, I dove into the very different world of wine and undertook my very first biography. I feel privileged to tell the classic American success story behind the founder of Kendall-Jackson Wines, Jess Jackson, in A MAN AND HIS MOUNTAIN.

OTHER WRITING: I've written for numerous publications, including Los Angeles Magazine, Sierra Magazine, Readers Digest, California Lawyer, the Oxford American, the Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. I have taught writing and journalism at the University of California, Irvine, Chapman University, and the University of Oregon.

SPEAKING: I enjoy speaking about my work, and have been invited to address a wide range of groups and organizations:the National Education Summit, the National Steinbeck Center, the ALOUD series, the National Association of District Attorneys, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the National Association of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Dole Center for Politics, the National High School Journalism Conference, the National College Newspaper Convention, the National Association of Teachers of English, the California Department of Corrections, the California Appellate Project, the American Psychology and Law Society, the Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Poynter Institute, the Crichton Club and numerous universities and other schools. I was called to testify about my reporting on juvenile court before the U.S. Senate and a joint session of the California Senate and Assembly. I've had the pleasure of delivering a commencement address at Hampshire College in Amherst, my alma mater, and have enjoyed speaking at venues throughout California as a contributing writer to MY CALIFORNIA, an anthology from which all proceeds were donated to the California Arts Council to support arts and writing programs for the state's school children. I served as a Regents Lecturer at the University of California, Irvine, and taught writing workshops at the University of Oregon graduate program in literary nonfiction.

HONORS: I received a Pulitzer Prize for my newspaper coverage of the military, a PEN Center USA award for NO MATTER HOW LOUD I SHOUT, a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for "The Forgotten," my LA Magazine account of life inside Los Angeles's nightmarish home for neglected children, and a Silver Gavel honor for MONKEY GIRL. The Washington Post named SCHOOL OF DREAMS a best book of 2003; the Los Angeles Times named MEAN JUSTICE a best book of 1999.

BORN: Philadelphia.

EDUCATION: Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass.

CURRENT WHEREABOUTS: Southern California

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