This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Kendall-Jackson Winemaster Randy Ullom

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Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at

Sleep City Missoula

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Jackson Family Wines and Kendall-Jackson are driven by an uncompromising desire for quality in their wines.  This family-owned and family-run business has always been dedicated to three things: respect for the land, their wines and the best interests of the consumer.

This week on the show I had the great pleasure to be joined by Kendall-Jackson Winemaster Randy Ullom.  This week is part two of a four show series with Kendall-Jackson.  This was an opportunity for me to sit down and learn about Randy’s background and taste thru a flight of KJ wines with Randy leading the way.

Randy has been with Kendall-Jackson since 1992 as a winemaker.  In 1997 he was made head Winemaster by Jess Jackson.  His love of wine began when he was on a short sabbatical from college that turned into three year stay, in Chile in the 70’s.  As the head Winemaster Randy oversees the entire Kendall-Jackson portfolio.

One of the many things I learned while tasting with Randy is his love of skiing and that he is a self professed rock hound, and when he mentioned that it really grabbed my attention.  Many of the finest winemakers I know have backgrounds in geology and this seems to provide them with sixth sense of the terroir in which their grapes grow.  After tasting wines with Randy this week I have to believe this is true of the portfolio of wines he oversees for Kendall-Jackson.

Randy is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan but it was during his stay in Chile and cross-country trek through Chile’s vast wine-growing regions that his passion for wine was born.  Upon his return to the United States, he entered Ohio State University to study crop production with a specialty in Viticulture and Enology and received his degree in 1975.

After six years as a vineyard manager and Winemaker in Ohio and upstate New York, Randy moved to California to become associate Winemaker at De Loach Vineyards in Sonoma County.  He was promoted to Winemaker and Vice President in 1991.  The wines produced during his tenure were consistent gold medal winners at wine competitions.  It was at these competitions that he at Jess Jackson became acquainted.

Randy has two astounding winemakers working with him.  Mark Theis is responsible for the Burgundian wine program, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as any Syrah releases, while Winemaker Matt Smith is responsible for the Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and the Meritage or red blends.

The Kendall-Jackson winery utilizes boutique winemaking methods throughout harvest, press and fermentation to craft their wines by hand.  Each vineyard lot is kept separate, so they can capture the essence of each vineyard site.  

The wine that Randy and I tasted this week was the Kendall-Jackson Avant Chardonnay .  The Avant Chardonnay is a beautifully crafted wine that is a great wine to start of the evening with.  There are three things that I share with you about the entire portfolio of Kendall-Jackson wines; the wines are made with finesse, the wines are elegant, and the wines are always consistent.

The Avant Chardonnay is pale yellow in the glass; it looks refreshing in your glass as it begs to be tasted.  It was fun to taste this new wine from Kendall-Jackson against the Vintners Reserve Chardonnay that has long been one of America’s favorite wines. 

The Avant has only a slight nuance of oak, the fruit is bright on the nose and the palate.  What I found intriguing about this wine is that on the palate it was both light yet rich with fruit.  This wine has a perfect balance of fruit and acid, featuring mild tropical fruit of pineapple, tart apple, and my favorite Meyer lemon, the K-J Avant will pair nicely with shellfish, or any white variety of fish.  The K-J Avant really comes to life on the mid-palate as it is crisp, and delivers light fruit with nice gentle acidity.  The finish is delightfully crisp with subtle tropical fruit that lingers long, this is a very nice wine.

Cooking with Kendall-Jackson Avant Chardonnay

Not only is Avant great to drink it’s great to cook with too. Here is a Northwest style clam recipe to enjoy today.


8 oz to 12 oz Fresh or dry Linguine

5 cloves garlic- minced

1/4 cup extra virgin Olive Oil

3 7oz cans minced clams reserve the broth

1/4 cup KJ Avant Chardonnay

1/2 to 3/4 cup of RESERVED CLAM BROTH

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 tsp each basil, oregano, black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Heat oil and add garlic but DO NOT brown. Then add clams, saute few minutes, add wine, broth and rest of ingredients, except cheese.  Cover and simmer about 10 minutes.  Mix into hot cooked linguine, mix in freshly grated Parmesan and serve with Caesar salad and rolls.

I want to thank Randy Ullom for joining me this week, he is captivating, informative and very passionate about Jackson Family Wines and the Kendall-Jackson portfolio he is responsible for.  He provided a great overview of the wine portfolio that you can find out about by visiting

To learn more about Jess Jackson and the history of Jackson Family Wines and Kendall-Jackson you can visit

Be sure not to miss next week’s show as WineMaster Randy Ullom will be sharing more of the Kendall-Jackson wines on the WineGuyMike radio show.  Sunday, March 18th at 10:00 AM  MST. 

You can listen to the show live on the Trail 103.3FM or U 104.5FM at;  Extended show podcasts are available following each week’s show on my blog at;

Have a great week and I’ll see you on the radio, cheers from WineGuyMike.

"from my table to yours"


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