Wednesdays with Winemakers – Jean Hoefliger
Jean Hoefliger, a winemaker for one of my all-time favorite brands, Alpha Omega, hails from Switzerland. He made wines worldwide alongside the likes of Michelle Rolland, a world-renowned consultant. A larger-than-life persona with a disarming, ever-present broad grin, and obvious passion for his craft, Jean is as easy to love as his extraordinary wines. His bold winemaking philosophies include lots of risk-taking, as well as high degree of reliance on intuition, heavily supported by exhaustive daily barrel tastings. His fierce dedication earned him oodles of critical acclaim, and high degree of respect from his peers. Consumers can’t get enough of his broad, expansive, complex, delineated, intellectually stimulating yet hedonistic offerings. A force to be reckoned with, Hoefliger is one of Napa Valley’s brightest winemaking stars.
Why did you become a winemaker?
I became a winemaker out of failure and an inability to passion myself with law school, instead I learned to play cards and drink wine.
If you weren’t a winemaker what would you be and why?
I would be a chef for the love of what food represents in today’s society and the art of putting ingredients together to create a blend of flavors.
What is your greatest strength as a winemaker?
My passion and my ability to doubt every wine until five minutes before bottling.
What is your biggest weakness as a winemaker?
Never being satisfied.
What’s the one mistake you made in the cellar you would never repeat?
Using barrel fermentation on Pinot Noir.
What is your proudest achievement?
What was your scariest vintage to date?
2009 because of the tropical storm that dumped 5 inches of rain in 2 days on Napa Valley.
What is your favorite word?
What is your most prized possession?
Although not my “possession,” my children.
What’s the oddest thing about you?
My odd sense of humor.
What song best sums you up?
“Its The End of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”– R.E.M
What is your favorite memory?
Holding my oldest son 5 minutes after his birth on my chest and falling asleep.
Which of the five senses is your strongest?
6th sense, instinct.
What is your biggest motivation?
The unreachable quest to the perfect wine.
Which bottle(s) of wine would choose to be stranded with on a deserted island?
1947 Cheval Blanc & 1961 La Tour.
Name three individuals you would like to have dinner with?
‘God’, Gandhi, and Anne Frank.
Who is your winemaking hero?
What is the one thing you want people to remember about your wine?
The Soul and aging potential.
Best comment made about your wine?
That every year is better than the previous vintage.