Domaine de la Grande Colline

Country of Origin: France
Location: Saint-Péray, Rhône
People: Hirotake Ooka, Owner & Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Biodynamic


Midway through studying chemistry and biology, Hirotake Ooka decided that he wanted to make wine. This new path took him to oenology school in Bordeaux. While in school he became enamored with the wines of the Northern Rhône and upon graduation approached Theirry Allemand for a position, but none were available. He ended up working with winemaker Jean-Louis Grippat and when Grippat’s vines were acquired by Guigal, Hirotake had worked his way up to Chief of Vineryard Management for Hermitage and Saint-Joseph vines for all of the Grippat and Vallouit estates. At this time he was also spending his weekends working with Allemand, and was becoming more and more convinced that wine should be made without additives. When a position opened in the early 2000’s with Allemand, Hirotake left Guigal and at the same time purchased a few vines and a winery in the town of Saint-Péray.

He produced his first vintage in 2001 from vineyards that were not worked at all and that had absolutely no vine treatments, not even ones allowed in organic viticulture. Hirotake prefers to let the vines grown on their own, undisturbed. A few years ago, Hirotake planted a new vineyard of Syrah on the steep hills of Cornas, bringing his estate to 3.8 ha.

His winery is equally magical, with his wine cellar consisting of a cave carved into the side of a mountain, providing a humidity with intensity. Some barrels have mushrooms growing on them. Hirotake considers this living environment to be an advantage! These natural elements are all part of the terroir of the cellar and an essential part of his wine.

Ooka, which means big hill in Japanese, named his winery Grand Colline (big hill in French).

Media Links
The New York Times: A Japanese Vintner in France
Wine Terroirs: Hirotake Ooka (Rhône)
Not Drinking Poison in Paris: Save Japan - Hirotake Ooka at Caves Augé
The New York Times: Cornas Is No Country Bumpkin