by Fred McMillin
for January 12, 1999


Jack London's Birthday, Jan. 12, 1876


Jack London's popular adventure novels included White Fang, The Sea Wolf and The Valley of the Moon.

San Francisco-born London wanted to go to the front lines to cover World War I. Afraid that his star might be killed, publisher William Randolph Hearst forbid any front-line visits, so London refused to go.

Kenwood Winery Meanwhile, in 1910 London had purchased an 800-acre ranch at Glen Ellen in the Valley of the Moon (Sonoma Valley). It became his dream home.

Eighty years later, that dream home has become a dream vineyard for the Kenwood Winery. They advise me that the Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is so popular that no advertising is needed to sell it out.

The Rest of the Story

Jack London's grand-nephew became the modern guardian of the London ranch. He told the S.F Examiner that "there have been vineyards on the ranch as long as I can remember." That figures because two other San Francisco residents bought the land for planting vineyards the year before Jack London was born. They had come from Germany to entertain the 49'ers. But Charles Kohler (violin) and John Frohling (flute) turned from tunes to trellises with great success. By the turn of the century, wines from the future London property were available throughout most of the U.S.A. Sales had been stimulated in 1866 when a visitor was so charmed by California wines that he took a promotional shipment east; his name was Mark Twain.

The Wine

Kenwood Jack London Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
For availability and prices, phone Margie Healy at (707) 824-7715, and plead.
Alternative—On Feb. 23, 1993, the Best Wine of my 30-bottle tasting was the 1990 Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel. Critic James Halliday regards these Zins as having "great distinction and power," from gnarled old vines.


About the vineyard's Wolf Head logo, Jack London published the first of his 50 books in 1900. It was titled "The Son of the Wolf."

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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