A FEW MOMENTS WITH…JOHN JACKSON (The Attorney Somm)
John Jackson, serving as a mild manner attorney during the day, but then transforming into a wine tasting guru in the evening. Trying and then posting images and descriptions of rare and unique wines from across the globe. Many of these wines are from a time even predating me (did they even have bottles back then or was it in wineskins?)
John grew up in Grand Rapids MI then attended school in Illinois. Following college, he was able to move to Dallas and work for a judge for a year before starting his practice. He enjoyed his time in Texas so much he made the decision to stay, and that’s where to this day he has chosen to hang his shingle as they say (well, maybe just I say that) Let’s find outa little more about John and his love of rare wines
BP: Hi John, thanks for taking a little time out of your day to chat with Booze Press
JJ: My pleasure, glad we could pull this together
BP: Well, obviously you’re an attorney, but when did you start your wine journey, are the 2 linked?
JJ: It was probably about 10 years ago. As an attorney you tend to go on a lot of business dinners, and one night at dinner with one of my colleagues from my firm, one who represents Oprah Winfrey quite often as a matter of fact. Well, he had been in Napa a few months before and he ended up ordering a wine at dinner, better than any wine I’d had before. And trying that wine really turned the light on for me and made me aware of what wine could be. I obviously had never had that feeling from wines I had tasted previously. That really got me thinking differently about wine and within a few months I had made my own trip to Napa. I visited a number of producers and it snowballed from there
BP: So after this experience, is this when your tasting became more of a passion?
JJ: Well, I went back to wine country a few more times and began reading more about wine. Then in 2011 or 12′, I joined this country club for wine drinkers, at least that’s probably the best way to describe it here in Dallas. Wineries would come in and do presentations to the group, much like a trade visit. Because Texas is such a big market, they all tend to come here. So that was a great way to be introduced to a number of wines. Also, many of the members are collectors, who’ve been at it for a very long time. Also, everyone brings a bottle to these dinners, and we put them on the table and everyone can try them. That’s when things really picked up for me
BP: I imagine with there being long time collectors in the group, some pretty special wines showed up
JJ: Yea, I was not only tasting a lot more wine than I would have tasted on my on one bottle at a time, but I was tasting in some cases, bottles that pre-dated me. These were wines I would never have been able to try otherwise. This got me into collecting higher end wines. We also started doing blind tastings, which for me at the beginning was very difficult. So after a few times of embarrassing myself, I started the WSET program so I could learn more and be a better blind taster. I started that program, and finished 1 per year until I was at Level 3, but I love a more in person experience, so I was really looking forward to Level 4. But unfortunately that never happened, so I moved forward on my own. Currently I have completed 5 of 6 units, so I just have one more test left and I’ll be a WSET diploma holder
BP: So technically you’re not a Somm, but your knowledge is definitely there. Ever get any grief from your branding?
JJ: No one has really said anything to me. I think because of my current credentials, they’d think its just quibbling or maybe nobody really cares
BP: What are some of your favorite wines?
JJ: I love champagne and also red wines. Many time in an evening I will open some champagne and enjoy it as the red wine I’ve picked aerates. It’s a good use of time. But Northern Rhone wines, like Cote Rotie are probably some of my favorites. But of course Bordeaux and Napa Cabs. Those are way up there on my list I would say
BP: Once you got into it all, you mentioned that initial Napa trip, where else have you visited..and do you have a favorite region?
JJ: I’ve been.er dismiss a region or a varietal. For instance, I don’t usually drink sweeter wines, but I was a Thai restaurant earlier this week and I ended drinking a German Riesling all night, because every dish was spicy and I just kept it going
BP: You seem to be somewhat consistent on social media with short videos. Where do you gather material for them and why do you do it?
JJ: It all started with Instagram about 2 years ago. Prior to that I hardly touched social media, maybe a little with LinkedIn. Around that time I was doing a lot of travel for pat litigation work and I had lots of depositions to tend to all over, but luckily in places with really good restaurants. As I was by myself at these restaurants, I just started taking pictures of the food and wine and posting it, and it just took off way faster than I expected. Because of that experiment really, I got better at what I was doing as far as taking pictures. My writing had always been pretty good, but I had to find out how to tailor it for Instagram, such as working within the limitations and learning how to use hashtags and all of those things. It was really just a creative outlet and finding something to do when I was traveling by myself
BP: What about the stuff you’re doing on YouTube?
JJ: I actually just started that last August (2020) Back then it was really just Winemaker Interviews I had done on IG Live, I just repurposed that content there. Mainly because it has the keyword searching which Instagram isn’t as good at as Google. At least back then. Then when I went into creating original content I had a huge learning curve again, because I knew nothing about editing and such. As far as the ideas, they come from a lot of places. Perhaps I’ve done a post and I think there’s more to say on the matter, for instance I did one on wine collecting which was 12 minutes long, but then I also do a short one for Instagram as well. I’ve also had people request topics. For instance, you do posts on wines I can’t afford, what about grocery store wines? So I went to the store, grabbed some bottles and did one on those, and it was pretty well received
BP: You mentioned your social media grew quite rapidly, what do you attribute that to?
JJ: It grew pretty fast initially, the first 10K probably occurred in only 15 or 16 months, but it appears to be decelerating now. I think the initial growth was based on the fact that the wines I was featuring were pretty good, and attention grabbing. I was writing about bottles most people don’t see, for instance a trip to Bern’s in Tampa and writing about a 1904 bottle. I think my writing is OK and I was writing long narratives before it was too fashionable. I started doing Twitter and YouTube and I’ve gotten some crossover. I think people who watch on YouTube want to interact and that’s much easier on Instagram
BP: How did Covid affect your traveling?
JJ: To be honest, I haven’t been to a winery since March of 2020. I’ve gone on personal trips and brought along my own wine, just so I could look at some different walls, but I’m really looking forward to getting back out there soon
BP: So as we usually try to do on these interviews, we wrap up with “5 Questions” all it really requires from you is a one words answer
JJ: Ahh, so like “this” or “that”…gotcha
Red or White: Red
Vegas or Paris: Paris
Appetizer or Dessert: Appetizer
Mountains or Sea: Sea
Hard or Soft: Hard
BP: See…not that tough. It’s been a pleasure John, look forward to chatting person some day
JJ: Me as well. Take care Dave