If you have spent any time in Yountville or Napa Valley, it’s likely that you have heard the name Jean-Charles Boisset. The eccentric Frenchman with an impressive shoe collection, an eye for innovation, and an entrepreneurial spirit – is a fixture in the wine world across the globe.
Jean-Charles grew up in the village of Vougeot, Burgundy, France. He fell in love with wine as a child and has curated one of the largest wine empires in the world. Spanning continents the family wine collection now shares more than 20 centuries of combined winemaking heritage and tradition. Fascinated by history, Jean-Charles has the uncanny ability to blend the heritage of winemaking with the newest techniques to produce some delicious wines. He implemented organic and Biodynamic farming practices at each of the family’s estate vineyards in Burgundy and California. He has instituted the concept of “viniculteur” redefining the company’s traditional role to encompass a close and active interest in all aspects of winegrowing to ensure premium quality and sustainable farming practices. Jean-Charles grew up in the village of Vougeot, Burgundy, France.
He fell in love with wine as a child and has curated one of the largest wine empires in the world. Spanning continents the family wine collection now shares more than 20 centuries of combined winemaking heritage and tradition. Fascinated by history, Jean-Charles has the uncanny ability to blend the heritage of winemaking with the newest techniques to produce some delicious wines. He implemented organic and Biodynamic farming practices at each of the family’s estate vineyards in Burgundy and California. He has instituted the concept of “viniculteur” redefining the company’s traditional role to encompass a close and active interest in all aspects of winegrowing to ensure premium quality and sustainable farming practices.
Jean-Charles expanded his family’s collection of wineries in 2003 with the purchase of DeLoach Vineyards, in the Russian River Valley. Inspired by his Burgundian heritage, the purchase of DeLoach Vineyards launched his vision and mission to produce terroir-driven wines mimicking the same commitment to terroir and organic and Biodynamic farming he had instituted in Burgundy. Jean-Charles has always been driven by history and in 2009 he purchased Raymond Vineyards in St. Helena and in 2011 Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma. Both wineries play important roles in the history of California wine making. In 2011 he launched his luxury wine brand JCB, focused on bringing together French and California wines under one label. JCB is what brought him to Yountville.
Sitting down with Jean-Charles is always a fun experience. Much like visiting any of his winery properties, you’re greeted warmly and much enthusiasm and a dash of mystery. It is early when we met for our interview, sadly too early for wine. One thing that has always amazed me about Jean-Charles is his ability to remember details about everyone he meets. Once, a few years ago, he and I had a conversation about my Masters degree in Egytpian Archaeology. From that moment on Jean-Charles always has a new Egypt or archaeology fact to share with me. Today is no different and we start our conversation talking about the newest discoveries at Saqqara in Egypt. After Egypt we talk about history podcasts, secret societies, and how much we miss dinner parties. Before we know a half hour of our time is gone but that is the thing about talking to interesting people, you can get lost in great conversations.
Jean-Charles has properties all over the world so what, to him, makes Yountville special? “Yountville has always been in my heart”, says Jean-Charles. The first thing that drew Jean-Charles to Yountville was the history. George Yount, the founder of Yountville, was given the first land grant from the Mexican government in the 1830’s and the first grapes in Napa County were planted shortly after that. Walking around Yountville, you are transported back in time to a small “Main Street” USA town. Jean-Charles brands are anchored in history so when thinking of a place to anchor JCB it made sense for that place to be Yountville. The JCB Tasting Salon opened in 2016 and has been a center point in town since then.
History isn’t the only thing that made Jean-Charles fall in love with Yountville. The impressive culinary scene and variety of hotels also attracted Jean-Charles to Yountville. “I love that you can have a slice of delicious pizza for lunch and then a three Michelen Star meal for dinner”. No where else can you find such a variety of amazing food in such a small place. “Not everyone wants to spend $900 a night on a hotel room and in Yountville you don’t have to.” Yountville has that charm and feel of a European town. You can walk everywhere and enjoy the town. It is exactly the kind of place that Jean-Charles wants for his homebase.
In addition to the history, food and feel of Yountville, the town is well managed and works to find a balance between residents and businesses, something that is important to Jean-Charles.
COVID-19 hit California just as Jean-Charles was planning to debut the new JCB Wine Bar & Lounge. Located behind the JCB Tasting Salon, the new tasting location was created as a place to experience luxury. Done in whites and reds the space is impressive and feels fancy. “We can’t wait to be able to welcome people in here”, remarks Jean-Charles. Like everyone, COVID-19 and quarantine have been hard for the Boisset Collection. Luckily people are still buying wine! But the ever changing rules and guidelines are wearing on everyone. Jean-Charles, and all of us really, are anxiously awaiting to be able to welcome people back to Yountville.
If there is one word to describe how Jean-Charles runs his business it is “Passion”. Passion can be seen in everything he does, from opening a new winery, reimagining old properties, or designing his own line of jewelry and scents, passion is evident in everything he does. “When I am thinking of a new project it has to match our mission, it has to provide something different. As much as we love history we love to look to the future.” And that is what Jean-Charles is doing. Looking to the future to make sure that not only his brands are successful but that Yountville and the Napa Valley are successful.