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Jackson Family Wines Improves Operations—and Wine—by Streamlining Front-End Access to Back-End Logic

Judy Flater director, production applications, JFW, Randy Mason application development manager, Bulk Inventory Management System, JFW - Photo by Ramin Rahimian


Customer: Jackson Family Wines
Headquarters: Santa Rosa, California
Business: Making and distributing wine
Challenge: Loss of support for Microsoft Visual Basic
Solution: Leveraging open-source solutions to create desktop and mobile back-end interfaces that are largely future-proof
Hardware: An IBM Power Systems 740
Software: CNX’s Valence and Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP

For some, there’s nothing like the sound of a good bottle of wine being uncorked and then enjoying the bouquet, the color and that first satisfying sip. How it got to the table from the vineyard, though, is often an afterthought, if it’s a thought at all.

That a lot a high-tech wizardry takes place behind the scenes at many of today’s wineries may seem outlandish. How, after all, could the nectar of the gods come about with strict scientific standards supported by software and servers?

JFW vineyards cover 15,500 acres in 6 California counties

But it’s happening throughout the wine industry, with companies such as Jackson Family Wines (JFW) using technology to improve their product in an ever-increasing competitive market. Without it, grapes might wither on the vine, wines might never make it out of barrels and bottles might not make it to local wine shops—and thus to dinnertime tables.

For years, JFW has recognized this and fully embraced technology as part of its everyday winemaking process. More recently, though, it’s moved beyond a client-server computing model to embrace mobile technology during its quality-assurance quarterly inventory tastings (QIT).

JFW migrated from the Microsoft* Visual Basic platform to the open CNX Valence interface tool. By doing so, it developed a real-time environment that feeds critical manufacturing data to its back-end systems, creating a streamlined method to ensure that its wines are of the highest quality and welcome on the palates of even the most discerning oenophiles.

Avoiding a Brick Wall

Headquartered in Santa Rosa, California, JFW is one of the most well-known and respected wineries in northern California. In addition to its local wineries and coastal vineyards, which span some 15,500 acres in six California counties—including Sonoma—the family has a presence in France, Italy, Chile, Australia and South Africa. Recently it also purchased vineyard property in Oregon’s acclaimed Willamette Valley, including the Zena Crown and Gran Moraine vineyards.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at



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