Jess Hutchinson was brought up in Devon and, after completing a BA in French, Spanish and European economics, joined Majestic where she spent five years as a store manager. After that she worked for five years as sales director at Charles Taylor Wines before launching her own business, Tamar Selections. She is co-founder and managing director of Vindependents, and winemaker at Domaine d’Audaux in south west France, where she lives with her husband Jamie and their two daughters.
What’s the first wine you remember drinking?
Really rough wine out of a 1-litre plastic bottle from a French supermarket. My mum used to give me some mixed with water whenever we were on holiday in France. I hated it!
What job would you be doing if you weren’t in the wine trade?
I would probably be a TEFL teacher. During my first week working at Majestic I was offered a job teaching English in Costa Rica. I got the call when out delivering 12 cases of water to a second-floor flat in the middle of August, so I was quite tempted. But I decided to stick it out in the wine trade and see where it got me.
How do you relax?
In the bath with a glass of wine and a good book with the door locked so no one can disturb me.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. It’s one of these books you can’t put down and keep thinking about for weeks afterwards. It’s a spy thriller (which I don’t usually like as I’m a bit of a wuss on the violence front), full of action and really well written with lots going on and great characters. The plot is spy agent versus Muslim terrorist who is developing a biological weapon: a virus with a fatality rate of 100%.
Give us a Netflix recommendation.
The Good Place. Although it’s an American series it has a very British style of humour.
Do you have any sporting loyalties?
None, although as I live near Pau I have to pretend to be enthusiastic about Section Paloise Rugby.
Who’s your favourite music artist?
I’m learning the drums, so my current enthusiasm is for Queen, as I’d like to be as good as Roger Taylor. Fat chance!
Who’s your favourite wine writer?
Jancis Robinson, as she has just written up our first vintage of Syrah and given it a lovely note.
You can ask any historical figure a question. Who, and what would you ask?
Jesus. I’d ask him for the secret of turning water into wine.
What’s your most treasured possession?
My pallet of bottles sat outside waiting for our Petit Manseng to go in. They are surely now worth more than my house.
What’s your proudest moment?
Other than producing two whole human beings, it would be starting my business.
Any hidden talents?
I’m part of our local theatre group called Les Bouffons de Castetnau. We do one play a year and this is my third. We usually do a tour of five or six performances with all the profits going to local schools. I have so far played a teenage boy, a legal secretary and, currently, a crazy Italian woman who’s been dumped by her boyfriend and is out for revenge. Trying to understand all the nuances of French comedy is hard enough, but learning all the lines is super hard work and performing is terrifying.
What’s your favourite place in the UK?
Dartmoor, where I grew up.
We’re granting you three wishes. Go.
1. You’d be crazy if you didn’t want world peace. 2. To be able to fly – when I was little I used to cry about the fact this was impossible. 3. Five more wishes.