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Alsace wine leader André Hugel has passed away

Alsace wine industry titan André Hugel has passed away at the age of 92 following Covid-related complications.

André Hugel was an 11th generation member of Famille Hugel, one of the region’s most influential and highly-regarded wine families.

The Hugel family settled in the town of Riquewihr, located in the heart of Alsace, all the way back in 1639.

André ran Famille Hugel along with his brothers, Jean and Georges, as it developed into one of the world’s top producers.

It owns 30 hectares (ha) of prime plots in the Haut-Rhin area, half of which are classified as Grand Cru, and it buys grapes from a further 100ha of vineyards cultivated by partner growers.

Famille Hugel now produces around 100,000 cases per year, and roughly 90% are exported to more than 100 countries, making Hugel wines synonymous with Alsace around the world.

André joined the family business at a young age after training in Beaune and Geisenheim. He was known as a passionate champion of two of the estate’s most iconic wines: Grossi Laüe – which means ‘best vineyards’ in Alsatian dialect – and Schoelhammer.

He served as president of the Riquewihr Archaeological Society from 1978 onwards, as well as president of Museum of Alsace Wines and Vineyards for more than 40 years.

André was also appointed Grand Master of the Confrérie St-Etienne wine guild in 1985, and he served as deputy mayor of Riquewihr from 1989 to 1995, and municipal councillor from 1995 to 2001.

He was a keen historian, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the region. His speciality was naturally winegrowing, but his research into Alsatians conscripted against their will into the German army in World War II also featured in several publications.

‘He leaves us with the memory of an incredibly full life, unfailing devotion to the family history and unlimited tenderness towards his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,’ said the family in a statement.

‘Spending a few, lazy hours in the picturesque streets of Riquewihr with André Hugel, and pushing open the doors of our centuries-old cellars was like setting out on an exploration of the extraordinary terroirs of Alsace and the history of our wonderful region.’

André continued working until his last days, helping to set the family business on a prosperous path long into the future.

His son Etienne, a respected figure in the region and the public face of the winery, passed away in 2016. His other two sons, Jean-Philippe and Marc, continue to oversee operations, while the 13th generation is also heavily involved.

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