Hartford Family Winery was founded in 1994 as a result of Don and Jennifer Hartford’s appreciation for the wines, the people, and the unique vineyards near their Russian River Valley home. Located in the Sonoma County town of Forestville, the winery is about 15 miles from the cool Pacific Coast.
After earning a BA, Don Hartford spent a year teaching English as a second language in Spain and later taught Spanish for four years in Massachusetts. Don Hartford met his wife, Jennifer Jackson-Hartford, at Santa Clara University in Northern California in 1979. (Shortly thereafter, Jennifer's father, Jess, started a modest 16,000 case winery called Kendall-Jackson.) In 1982, he graduated from Santa Clara Law School. Don's legal career included a Tokyo law firm, a large San Francisco-based firm, Jess Jackson's practice of constitutional law, and work at the California Supreme Court. He also was a partner in a small country law partnership, and served for a time as a winery general counsel and vice president.
For more than twenty-five years, Don has been immersed in winemaking and winery management. In the process, Don has returned to one of his first loves—the land and farming. In addition, he and Jenny personally own and lead the farming of the winery’s vineyards, including a small old vine Zinfandel vineyard behind their home. Don and Jenny are co-owners of Hartford Family Winery along with their children, Hailey Hartford Murray and McLean Jackson Hartford. Don works "hands on" at all levels of the business, including work in the vineyards, winery, marketing, hospitality and sales.
Making delicious wines of high personality is directly related to the difficult locations of their vineyard sources, the limited production of bottlings and the varietals they use. “Character through adversity” is an expression that they believe applies to people and grapevines and surviving adversity builds character, and personality, in both.
Hartford Family Winery specializes in making wines from single vineyard sites. In recent vintages they’ve made about 25 different single vineyard bottlings. Small and low-yielding vineyards deliver expressive and personality-rich wine. Their single vineyard Hartford Court Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays total as few as 93 cases, up to about 800 cases. Likewise, their Hartford Old Vine Zinfandels are produced in small quantities. Their single vineyard wines are highly allocated.