Jonas De Maere
Jonas De Maere is the son of a local wine merchant; his father ran a wine import business with some friends in the village. Every holiday they visited vineyards and he played football with his brother in the vineyards. For as long as he can remember, wine has been a part of his life…
Can you give a snapshot of your current professional life?
I currently work for Ahold Delhaize USA as a wine program manager. And I oversee wine sales in 2000 supermarkets for about $600 million. I provide both strategic and operational support to the category management teams of our five American supermarket chains. I am responsible for all business processes related to sourcing wine from foreign and domestic suppliers, identifying assortment gaps, and the continuous evaluation of the results of the category. I work with wineries, freight forwarders, importers, and wholesalers, and I am involved in negotiations, supply chain operations, and reporting.
Would you tell us a bit about your background and what sparked your interest in wine?
I was born and bred as the son of a local wine merchant. My father had a small business selling wine he was importing with a couple of friends in the village. We would spend our vacation visiting vineyards and I would play football with my brother between the vines. Wine is something that has been around as long as I remember.
How did your WSET education help you with your career?
Growing up with wine I was fortunate enough to have some awareness, but I did not understand how large the world of wine really was. My father was mostly interested in French wine. When I took my first WSET course at a young age – I was only 21 – a whole world of wine opened up to me, literally and figuratively. WSET really helped me understand what it was all about.
What challenges did you face during your studies at WineWise?
I was studying for the Diploma at the same time I was working on my PhD in applied economics. I was only part-time active in the wine industry at the time and busy with a lot of other things at the same time. Scheduling time and prioritizing is definitely needed when you want to complete the WSET Diploma. My advice would be to carve out the time and focus during that period on studying only.
Which wine book(s) would you recommend?
The two books that were (maybe still are) required reading for the WSET Diploma: Jancis Robinson’s ‘The Oxford Companion to Wine’ and David Birds’ ‘Understanding Wine Technology’. The former I still open almost weekly to look up something or discover something I did not know. The latter really helped me to understand the process of making wine.
Do you intend to study any further?
Yes and no. The wine world is changing rapidly, and as a professional you need to be constantly informed You constantly have to read articles, talk to people, and visit regions and wineries. This form of continuous self-study is a constant in my professional life. I do not plan to pursue any other formal education or certificates.
Are you specialized in a certain topic/region/other,… ?
I would say that I am an expert in Belgian Wines. Apart from that I tend to have more expertise in regions and styles of wine I like the wine from such as German Riesling, Champagne, Bordeaux, Douro Valley. I I have extensively travelled the West Coast of the USA and have quite some expertise sourcing wines from California, Oregon, and Washington.
What was the last wine you drank?
Bardong – Blanc de Noir Spätburgunder 2015 – Assmannshäuser Hinterkirch Brut
Did Covid-19 changed your wine habits?
I have not been able to travel nor attend professional events. This lowered my consumption of wine significantly. I only drank 2 glasses of wine a week.
What makes a wine great?
Tension! Wines high in acidity that have enough fruit and body to cope with it. Or tannins that have evolved but are still clearly present and melt with secondary and tertiary aromas of an ageing wine. You’ve got to love it !
What was your most impressive wine trip and why?
South Australia. In 2017 I had the opportunity to spend some time in the region around Adelaide. The diversity in wines from the Rieslings of Eden Valley, over the Shirazzes of Barossa, to the Chardonnays of Adelaide Hills and the Cabernets from Coonawarra. So much diversity in such a relatively small area was a unique experience.
Which wine region to visit is on top of your bucket list?
Argentinië – Mendoza. I would love to visit Argentina not only for the Malbecs, but also for its tango, beef, and mountains. For me, visiting wine regions is about so much more than just wine. It is also about culture and getting to know the place Once you understand what it is all about you learn to appreciate the wine better too.
Which graduate do you think we should interview and why?
Robby Koreman. Someone I do not know very well, but we studied together almost ten years ago, and he was a fun guy. Not coming from within the wine industry he might be able to shed another perspective on what wine did with his life.