Jean Hoefliger

Winemaker/GM, Alpha Omega


Jean once made a tribute wine for Brother Timothy after trying his hand at law school and wealth management.

How many years have you been in the Napa Valley wine industry?

Fourteen.

How did you get started in the wine business?

Out of failure from law school and wealth management in Switzerland, I decided to turn my path to drinking.

Which wine was your "a-ha!" wine – the one that made you love wine or inspired you to get into the industry?

1947 Cheval Blanc, because it is the perfect expression of how a wine grows with age, hopefully the same way humankind will.

Name a Napa Valley vintner who has influenced you and briefly explain why.

When I was making wine at Newton, I was asked to produce a tribute wine for Brother Timothy. I had multiple meetings, lunches and dinners with a man who made wine through Prohibition, and then all the way through the start of my career. I felt very humbled attending dinners with him and Robert Mondavi, which was an amazing experience for me.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?

Working and living in an industry that moves at the pace of the vegetative cycle of the vine, and represents an epicurean life.

What are the greatest challenges?

The uncontrollables, like the weather and the unpredictable cycles of the economy.

Our motto at the NVV is "cultivating excellence." What does this phrase mean to you and how do you cultivate excellence at your winery?

I never accept that anything is good enough, and always live the thought that there is room for improvement.

What are you doing at your winery to help preserve and enhance Napa Valley for the future?

We are a certified green winery and we are hoping to transition to solar in 2015. We also try to manage our vineyards in a sustainable way to limit the impact on the environment and work on the eternity of this great valley.

How does your winery help tell the Napa Valley story?

We produce a collection of single vineyard wines which showcase eight different sites in many different appellations to help people understand the greatness of this region.

If you weren't a Napa Valley vintner, what would you be doing?

A chef.

If you could open a bottle of your wine and share it with any three people (living or not), who would they be?

God, Warren Buffett, Khayyam.

What advice would you offer someone trying to get into the Napa Valley wine industry?

If you don’t breathe, dream and sweat wine, it is not worth it. But if you do, enjoy the ride.