Etienne Hugel, of Famille Hugel in Alsace, passed away on April 8 at the age of 57. An energetic, tireless and charming man, Hugel’s passing was sudden and untimely. The cause of death has not yet been released.
“A visionary and a hard worker, my son Etienne travelled the world relentlessly, showing unparalleled people skills and infectious enthusiasm,” said André Hugel, Etienne’s father. “Throughout his life he was able to communicate his passion, his professionalism and his personal values to all those with whom he worked.”
Born in 1958 and raised in the small village of Riquewihr, Alsace, Hugel was the 12th generation of his family to represent the Famille Hugel estate, which was founded in 1639. Responsible for international marketing and sales—no small task with 95% of production being exported—he not only became the face of the brand, but also the face of Alsace. With three generations actively involved in the running of the estate, Hugel is a true family business.
“My family was wise enough not to force me [into the wine business], but waited until I became passionate about wine,” he said during an interview with Wine Enthusiast in 2015. “My epiphany came during internships in Sauternes, Burgundy and Napa Valley. I learned how passionate people are in the wine business.”
A passionate man, Hugel had many talents and interests. He impressively switched effortlessly from English to German and back to his native French while animatedly conversing about everything from politics and Japanese cuisine, to his family’s Lutheran ethos and the characteristics of Riesling. His fierce intelligence was always tempered by a risqué sense of humor. How many lives he touched was evident in the countless tributes that remember him as “a hedonist in the noblest sense of the word.”
A true citizen of the world, he brought the culture of Alsace and his love of life to everyone he met. He will be deeply missed.
Hugel leaves behind his father André, his wife Kaoru and their two children, Charlotte and Jean-Frédéric.