Meet the curious and daring Jean-Charles Boisset, CEO of the luxury wine and spirits group Napa Valley

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You said earlier that you thought the business could be better without you. Why?

Well, because we’re constantly made up of more people, and because maybe I’ll get, you know, probably overwhelmed. I will become obsolete, I will not become as trendy as I am today. I will not follow the evolution of time.

We have an amazing team that will be ready to take it to the next level whether I’m there or not. A lot of things that are happening today are happening without me being involved in the smallest details. I structure it as such. I get excited when I see people shine without my being involved every step of the way, when they take calculated but inspiring risks themselves and they go for it.

I believe we have to stop having ego as big as the world to say it’s going to crumble without me. We are a collection of amazing wineries, amazing brands that are way beyond my time. Listen, we resurrected Buena Vista Winery; the cellar is better than it has ever been. Raymond… is four times his size. The Ink House, this beautiful hotel we bought, is more spectacular than ever.

If I am an inspiring, passionate, and energetic dreamer, this is exactly who I think I should be. President, CEO, leader, these are all big words that don’t belong to me, but to an MBA school that I don’t even belong to.

What is your opinion on the future of the US economy?

I am exactly bullish. I think America is the best place to be. American democracy is the best of all; the system of brakes and counterweights. And the presidential system is fabulous. I think the world should run its economies the same way America does.

What are you doing to attract employees?

What we hope to attract is the engagement of their opinion, the engagement of their contribution, that what they say means something and we act according to their belief. We hope to attract enthusiasm and energy, we hope to attract passion and dreams.

Do you think salaries are the answer to recruiting?

Absolutely not. Our agenda is long term and we choose to give people a voice and opinion where people can make a difference.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being located in North Bay?

We must continue to embrace this spirit of action, to support our entrepreneurs and to encourage creative enterprises. We need to make sure that North Bay has thriving communities with housing that people can afford; we need our local governments to work in partnership with businesses that seek to make it a better place, where sometimes we feel more engaged than supported by them.

If you could change a government regulation, what would it be?

In some wine regions of northern California, the connection to food and wine is sorely missed. Many places suggest that a winery should not offer dishes to pair with wines. We believe this needs to evolve because wine and food are better together, and the enjoyment of wine should never be drinking, alone, but rather the cultural experience of wine and food together.

What other acquisitions are you considering?

And we have big ambitions. We keep adding, and we keep bringing more to our culture, more phenomenal and visionary ideas that make us a better place than yesterday. Our journey is not over.

Do you want to share with NBBJ readers what these acquisitions will be?

No, because I want you to call me every week because we are going to feed you with new ideas.

What do you see in the boutique hospitality industry?

Huge potential as people change their travel habits. We chose to want to be in smaller houses, extended houses, to be received and to live like the owners of the houses. This is why the house my wife and I bought, this beautiful house in Napa Valley, so you can rent multiple rooms, all the rooms in the hotel and hang out with your friends at a private chef or you – even cook in the kitchen and live like a Victorian home owner in the heart of St. Helena on Highway 29.

I think people want unique experiences, they want to be part of the landscape, the fabric and the experience of the wine country, the beach, the mountains or nature. Today, it’s all about experience, much more than transaction.

How is your wife, Gina Gallo, involved in the Boisset Collection?

Gina is my muse and a source of creative energy. We love to mix wine, discuss wine and share the life of wine, but our company remains entirely separate as it has a very successful career in the wine world with its family winery.

Do you think your twins will ever be involved in the wine industry?

We would love it of course. But they will find their way to their wine world in their own way, just like their mother and I did.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in your industry?

Be curious, be bold. Try everything and meet as many people as you can. The world of wine is an inspiring world that rewards enthusiasts and committed people. Wine is never a job, it’s a life. Kiss him.


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