Winemaker Interview: Jean-François Coquard

Meet the man behind Italian wines and now Beaujolais wines.

Jean-François Coquard truly has wine in his blood.

For thirteen generations his family has produced wine in the Beaujolais region of France. Following in the footsteps of his father, he also worked abroad, forging a name for himself in Lombardy, Italy, where he worked with his own native grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to produce award-winning wines at Tenuta Mazzolino.

He has finally returned home after nearly twenty years to rediscover his roots and bring to life his own expression of the Gamay grape.

Read more about JEAN-FRANÇOIS COQUARD

A thirteenth-generation winemaker, and the youngest of six children, for Jean-François Coquard, wine is truly a way of life.

He grew up among the family vineyards in the Pierres Dorées area of Beaujolais, immersed in every phase of the process from planting and pruning to weed pulling and harvest. 

Later he would assist his father and brother in the wine cellar, where he learned to taste wines and developed his palate. He pursued a degree in Biology and a Masters of Oenology from the University of Dijon in Burgundy, where he received high honors.  During the course of his studies he honed his craft, focusing on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as an intern with the prestigious Hospices de Beaune.

Upon graduation, Jean-François was recruited as head winemaker of Tenuta Mazzolino in Lombardy, Italy, a family-run winery in an emergent wine region most noted for the production of his native Burgundian grape varieties.

There he spent fifteen years producing wine and managing world-wide distribution, during which time he traveled extensively and brought prestige to the Mazzolino label, earning numerous awards including the coveted Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri five years in a row for his Pinot Noir, “NOIR.”

He then returned home with his family where he continued to work as an independent consulting winemaker throughout Italy and France.

In 2017, he brought his legacy to fruition with the launch of JFC Vins, his own brand, style and concept that encapsulates his years of experience as an artisan-négociant and consultant, a portrait of his mastery in the vineyards and the cellar.  “Wine is my passion and my life and I look forward to introducing my first cuvees of Gamay, Bonarda, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” he says. They are a reflection of his life story up to now, an assemblage of Italian fantasia and French élégance.

At the same time, he brings the sensitivity and nuance of a world traveller and curious bon vivant to his work.

“Beaujolais, Burgundy and Lombardy will be always remain at the heart of my endeavor, but I’m not setting any limits. It’s no secret I’m even exploring the world of spirits.”

Jean-François radiates positivity when discussing his project and his wines possess a palpable vitality. To Jean-François, this is not simply a dream coming true, it is the culmination of the path he was born to take, and it’s only just begun.

As a winemaker, Jean-François Coquard carries the legacy of 13 generations in the vineyard and nearly twenty years as a consultant and artisan-négociant.

As a world traveler he possesses a boundless curiosity and an appreciation for diverse terroir. As a friend, father and brother his dedication knows no limits. His wines reflect a profound experience, a reverence to the earth with the living soul of a man.