Consulting Winemaker / JH Wine Consulting
Session: Advances in the Analysis of Oak Compounds by Near Infrared Technology
Jean Hoefliger is a man with a quixotic mission: He is inspired and driven by the quest for creative perfection while knowing full well that it can never be achieved. "It's true, I'm a perfectionist," he says. "I don't believe in perfection in wine but I'm going to fight my entire life to find it." An artisan who has always been motivated to push the envelope, he relies on a commitment to constant scientific research matched by an open-minded, entrepreneurial creativity. With his background in international finance and decades of wine industry experience—from Bordeaux and South Africa to Spain, Italy and California—Jean brings to his clients a rare combination of expertise in winemaking, viticulture and real-world business acumen.
That nexus of science, business and art fascinates Jean. "It's a constant balance," he explains. "If anything, I lean to the art side. Ultimately decisions have to be made by a nose and a palate." But, he adds, the wine's eventual purchaser is always top of mind. "My role is purely to translate the site with my philosophy, which is: who do I make wine for? You have to accommodate your customers' tastes."
Jean Hoefliger was born and raised in Switzerland, where his first winery experience was at his godfather's estate. He soon left for California where he worked at Michel Schlumberger and Hartford Family in Sonoma, followed by moves to Bordeaux and South Africa, where he made wine at the esteemed estates of Chateau Carbonnieux and Meerlust. After earning degrees in enology and viticulture at Switzerland's Federal Winemaking School of Changins and in science at the Maturité Fédérale, Jean returned to Bordeaux to make wine at Chateau Lynch-Bages. Moving back to California—which he calls "the golden land" and credits with giving him opportunities not available in Europe—he spent five years as winemaker for Newton Vineyard from 2001 to 2005.
Jean was a part of the Alpha Omega team from its inception in 2006, where he was winemaker while concurrently building his global consulting business. In early 2021, he decided to wrap up his winemaking role and focus on his consulting clients. Jean has built his client wineries over the years to include: Monteverro in Tuscany, Grapeheart in Suisun Valley, V. Vineyards in Sonoma County, and in Napa Valley: AXR, The Debate, Clark-Claudon, Decades 5, Denali Estate, Harbison Estate Wines, Joseph Carr Wines, MR Michel Rolland, Theorize, and Sunshine Valley Vineyards. Jean's consulting business includes everything he loves from managing farming, to crafting world class wines, to advising on business strategies and even building and implementing the sales structure for clients. Jean's passion, knowledge, scientific training and innate ability put him in a unique position to take the best grapes around the world and transform them into wines and brands worthy of global standing.
Jean's naturally ebullient joie de vivre and love of a good joke run in counterpoint to his typically Swiss discretion and analytical nature. He has an insatiable appetite for art, philosophy and a good discussion, all pursuits he enjoys indulging whether in the vineyard, at the winery, at home, or around the table with friends old and new. Jean Hoefliger lives in Novato, CA with his wife, Chelsea Bellows.