It all started when Jan Hohmeister spent the summer of 2000 in the vineyards and olive groves of western Liguria, Italy. He became friends with the gardener Mario Baisi, who was in charge of 300 Vermentino vines, and decided to stay until the harvest to learn the basics of wine making. While helping and observing, Jan met the valley’s expert on garagiste-style vinification, Mario Bianchi. The hard work and dedication of the Ligurian wine makers became a constant source of inspiration to him.
The year after, Jan decided to leave his residence in busy Paris behind and moved to the province of Imperia with his then-girlfriend, now-wife Dijana for good. He turned Mario Baisi’s vineyard into his laboratory, increasing the amount of vines, planting and replanting different grape variations. In this way, he collected years of precious experience in the groundwork of wine making. It all paid off when in the summer of 2008, he managed to get exclusive rights to a small old vineyard with Nebbiolo grapes, just a stone’s throw north of the Piedmont wine Mecca Barolo. Jan started to blend his Ligurian grapes with the noble northern Berries and was surprised by the well balanced outcome.
Blending different grapes opened up a new world of possibilities to him. Jan realized his playground was way beyond single wine-growing regions; the idea for Il Vagabondo rose on the horizon.
In the following years, the grape varietals changed and Jan began to understand the influence of fruits from different regions on his blends. Every year offered new surprises, new bouquets and harmonies. Connecting with other vintners and winemakers around Europe to gather more information turned out to be equally important as understanding regional differences in known varietals. He realized the search for the one holy grail of blends was pointless. Nature offered too many beautiful flavors and nuances all stemming from a seemingly simple plant. So he decided to dedicate his devotion and eagerness to creating new blends every year, to follow his nose and combine grape varietals from all over Europe.
In the summer of 2014, things became more concrete. A group of friends gathered to find a name and design for Jan’s project; inspired by Jan’s nickname bear, Il Vagabondo derives from the image of a wandering bear, following his nose only, mirrored by the bottle’s bear logo. It also seemed almost fateful when Jan met Roberto Orsi, whose last name means bears in Italian. As a studied enologist and viticulturist with decades of wine making experience, he became the vintner and backbone of the Vagabondo project.
Finally, when Jan and Dijana’s son Samuel Jan Bruno was born in November 2014, his name became the basis for the future labels such as Sambruno or Bruno ‘15.