The transition from farmhand to wine connoisseur was a logical one; both involved knowing how to work the land. The same shift from businessman to real estate mover-and-shaker, or from businessman to decathlete? That one is a bit more unexpected. This is exactly what Jack Kautz has accomplished in a life bookmarked by branching out, trying different things and always being willing to share the success with those in need. In this business profile of Mr. Kautz, we’ll explore his beginnings and how it has translated to giving back to the community and participating in some rather unexpected athletic adventures.
The story of Ironstone and Bear Creek wineries has always been about family. Both facilities are owned by the family and it was Jack Kautz’s father who put him on the path. That’s because his father inherited three acres of land at the age of 13 and the family would toil through good times and bad. Eventually, those three acres expanded to extensive acres of farmland and Mr. Kautz alongside brothers and a sister were growing a cornucopia of vegetables. Economic factors outside of the farm’s control would eventually spur the family to switch from row crops to wine grapes. In hindsight, there would be no “sour grapes” at play here and this would prove to be a pivotal decision for both Jack Kautz and the rest of his family. Today, Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, California, has recorded sales in more than 40 countries are all U.S. states. The Kautz family, with Mr. Kautz serving as director of Ironstone, would pool its efforts to later purchase Bear Creek Winery, which sells custom crush juice to other wineries or for export. Along the way, Mr. Kautz would become involved in real estate and even purchase his first building at the age of 18. Since then, he’s bought and sold homes, apartments, commercial buildings and developed sub-divisions.
Jack Kautz has certainly seen a successful career in the professional sector. It’s this success, however, that has allowed him to support the local community on both a personal and business level. Both Ironstone and Bear Creek have donated nearly $1 million and regularly host the 4-H and FFA fundraiser, the Concours de Elegance, in Murphys. The wineries have also been instrumental in the construction of the Ebbets Pass Veterans Memorial and Micke Grove Veterans Memorial. In-between these efforts, Mr. Kautz has completed all sorts of physically-demanding and adventurous events. This includes swimming from Alcatraz Island, across the San Francisco Bay, to mainland California; swimming the 33 miles of choppy English Channel waters; climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and completing a Two-Time Ironman Triathlon.
About Jack Kautz: Jack is heavily involved in the family business. In his free time, he is also an avid hiker and decathlete. Jack and his wife, Sara, live in Lodi, California, with their two daughters.