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Etienne Hugel

Hugel is one of the most famous wine maker in Alsace. It is also one of the oldest and one of the most influential. In one word a good opportunity to meet Etienne Hugel and to share a little bit of the family's success.

Hugel is a family business. You are the 12th generation in charge. How have you managed to reach such an achievement?

I think that during 8 or 9 generations it was purely luck. But for 2 or 3 generations, there is a strong desire to fight in order to keep Hugel winery within the family.

We are part of two clubs wich endeavour to perpetuate family traditions in business.

- Henokiens ( is an association of bicentenarian family companies, not only in the wine business. There is Beretta, famous guns manufactuer, or Mellerio jeweller.

- PFV ( stands for Primum Familiae Vini (leading wine families). The members of Primum Familiae Vini aim to promote the values of family-owned wine companies

We are really focused on this objective. It is our number one mission at Hugel to transmit to the future generation in order to perpetuate our family tradition.

You have to know that is more and more difficult to achieve. The tax pressure is huge. Especially in the wine business because the vineyard's price keeps on rising.

As my uncle uses to say: our company worths a lot of money but not in cash. Our challenge is not to waste it now. We need to have a long-term vision. We have no chance without this vision.

Monsieur Jean Hugel has now more than 80 years old, is he still active?

Officially he retired after the 97 vintage. But his nephews haven't noticed that ! My father and my uncle are available anytime we are in need but they are not interfering the management. They keep themselves up to date, they read fax. Actually, they are maybe a little bit frustrated because they don't have access to email.

How to you distribute the work charge between Hugel family members?

We are three. Jean Philippe (Hugel of course) studied at Essec - a famous management school in France - and is managing the company. My brother, Marc, is responsible of the production (vinegrowing and winemaking). And myself, Etienne, I am in charge of sales and communication.

The attribution of roles is done more naturally than anything. When we joined in 1980 we began a slow process of training. We alternate positions so that we know all the aspects of the business. Then according to affinities and skills of each one of us, we find what suit us best.It is significant that each one knows well enough the different positions.

My grand father used to say: the day when lazy and inefficient members of our family will not be able to find a job elsewhere than in the company, we will have to sell ! We had to prove our skills, motivation and abilities, perhaps even more than in another company.

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Etienne Hugel



Etienne hugel








circa 1900

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