Jack Bittner felt the lure of Cliff Lede Vineyards long before he became the winery’s president.
Tours, tastings, harvest, check-ins at the Poetry Inn—if something is happening at Cliff Lede Vineyards, chances are that Jack Bittner is on the case.
As President, Bittner manages day-to-day operations of both Cliff Lede and sister property FEL Wines. He oversees sales. He has a hand in marketing. He participates in blending sessions. He meets growers. He handles media visits. He works with other team members to ensure the vines have what they need. Indefatigable, Bittner also travels across the US and abroad representing Lede Family Wines at prestigious tastings and events.
“There’s nothing here I don’t do,” he quips. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Bittner also plays an important part of day-to-day operations at FEL Wines, Cliff Lede’s sister property in the Anderson Valley. As a fan of Pinot Noir and aromatic white varietals, Bittner played a key role in the acquisition of this property in 2009, and he continues to oversee day-to-day management and integration efforts today for FEL.
Technically, Bittner has been hanging around the wine business for most of his life. He got his start sipping considerably rougher stuff: Apple wine he made in the garage with his father while growing up in a small town in Massachusetts. Since then, after moving to the Napa Valley in the 1990s, Bittner has concentrated on Bordeaux varieties, working in various sales, marketing and management roles at Silverado Vineyards, St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery and Clos Pegase.
Bittner graduated with an English degree from Boston College in 1992 and earned his MBA from the University of California, Davis. Looking back, he says this graduate degree added more depth and breadth to his already keen understanding of business acquired during 15 years in the wine trade.
“It helped me see how non-wine businesses do things,” he says. “It gave me a better understanding of the macro-economics of agriculture, of how the hospitality industry works, even of how my own distributors operate and why some are more successful than others.”
Today, Bittner lives in St. Helena with his wife and daughter. When he’s not traveling between Stags Leap, the Anderson Valley, or Tokyo and London on behalf of Lede Family Wines, he’s usually cycling up Howell Mountain, or at home, relaxing with a good book.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery