The path from fried chicken and cornbread while growing up in Tennessee to importing French wines was not an obvious one. While working in restaurants during college, Jon-David developed an interest in French wine and growing regions. Upon graduation, he moved to Paris to work on an MBA and took every opportunity he had to travel to wine country. It wasn’t long until it became clear that working with farmers made so much more sense than poring over spreadsheets, at least for him.
Finding a job in the wine business was not easy work but in 2001, Eric Solomon took a chance on a young man with little experience and made him his Director of Operations. Before long, Jon-David was the General Manager of European Cellars. After a few years of close work with Eric, Jon-David struck off on his own and created a portfolio of wines from the Loire Valley and Champagne, two regions with which he had long been intensely passionate. Perhaps it was destined from the start but in 2013, the two portfolios came back together under the umbrella of European Cellars.
His manifesto, which he wrote when he started the company in 2005, remains as true today as it did then, “Standing in a rocky, chalk-covered vineyard a few years ago, I listened as a winegrower friend talked about the current state of wine. “Fruit in a wine is easy”, he said. “Purity is elusive.” He was right, of course, but I’d never really thought about it in such stark terms. He continued, “Purity comes from hardship. It comes from the struggle of the vine’s roots through the rocks it is planted on, it comes from the fight against every other plant vying for the same water and nutrients, and it comes from the plant learning to fight for itself and not having man fight its battles.”
“In creating this portfolio, I was looking for these kinds of wines, and I found them planted on a massive swath of chalk and slate that runs from the Atlantic Ocean through the Loire river valley and into Champagne. This “chalk line” produces wines of extraordinary purity, minerality, and soul and represents the heart of my portfolio. The properties with which I work are consumed with making true wines – wines that are true to where they come from, true to the earth, and true to the winemaker’s obsession with quality. The vast majority of the properties with which we work practice organic or biodynamic viticulture and we wholly support winemakers who harvest by hand, use indigenous yeasts, and who vinify with little intervention. All are leaders in their appellations and harvest at dramatically lower yields than their neighbors. Above all else, they are farmers.
“In selecting properties for this portfolio, I seek purity first, eschewing heavy-handed usage of oak and opting instead for wines with excellent ripeness, minerality, and above all, balance. The presence of balancing acidity is absolutely crucial in my view to world-class wine and I’m not afraid to represent wines that have startling acidity if there is fruit to support it.”
Founded in 2005, Jon-David Headrick Selections was named “Best New Specialist Importer” by Wine & Spirits magazine as well as a “Wine Importer You Can Trust” by Slate magazine. Headrick’s work has been featured in French media outlets such as Radio France, La Nouvelle Republique, and TV Tours as well as American publications such as the Washington Post, Food & Wine magazine, and many others. In 2010, the government of France announced that Jon-David Headrick would be appointed a Chevalier dans l’Ordre du Merite Agricole, one of the highest civilian awards given by the government of France. The rank of chevalier (knight) is a lifetime appointment and is given to acknowledge outstanding service to French agriculture.