Domaine Pouillon is a collaboration between wife and husband. When we met in 2005, we both had a desire to make wine with old world flair. We built a home on the frontier-like paradise of the banks of the Columbia River in Washington State and began right away with the harvest and crush of grapes - experimenting and testing our own limits of winemaking knowledge and physical exhaustion.
Many of our first days of working together ended in elaborate meals cooked over a wood fire and washed down with good French wine followed by captivating conversations about our dreams for the future. Those struggles, companionship, and successes fueled our passion to turn our full-time hobby into a real winery.
As our winery and our tastes have matured, we’ve turned our focus toward producing wines that excite the senses and express the unique influences of our winegrowing region.
Domaine Pouillon is a family-owned and operated winery and farm located in the scenic Columbia River Gorge. Each year we produce approximately 2,500 cases of delicious and sophisticated wine. Our small size allows us to demand the highest standards from ourselves and our vineyard partners. The grapes are hand-picked in small lots at their ideal ripeness. We practice traditional artisan winemaking techniques: gently guiding the wine, allowing it to mature in the cellar before bottling and labeling each by hand.
I prefer Vigneron to Winemaker because my focus is on the cultivation of grapes throughout the growing season not just what is done in the winery. The daily work that is done in the estate vineyard keeps me grounded and in tune with how the vintage is developing. Because of my close connection with the vines during the year, I have a good sense how the wines will taste as they age in barrel through the winter months and into the bottle.
This is what is so important about knowing where and how a wine is made. No two vintages are completely identical and one’s interpretation of the vineyard can be right or wrong depending what signs you see and understand.
How this understanding is captured and fully expressed in the winemaking and cellaring of the wine can only be learned through experience. It takes years and patience.
One can not just purchase grapes from highly respected vineyards and make great wine without first understanding the vineyard’s expression and the individual vintage climatic influences. Being a Vigneron is a lifetime’s journey, and I hope you join me on this voyage.
Alexis Pouillon (Le Vigneron) was born the youngest of five to an obscure family of French nobility. After the family estate was divided amongst his older siblings all that was left for him was a 4x7 meter plot of land in the small village of Pouillon with a 3-wheeled Deux Cheveaux and feral cat. He traveled to the wine region of Chateauneuf where he worked for the Perrin family at Chateau de Beaucastel. After two years, he decided to strike out on his own and came to America to make a name for himself. Casting about at first, he tried his hand at laminate countertop installation and customizing classic vehicles. After a failed attempt to bring countertops and cars together in a small machine shop in Oakland, CA called “Manifold Destiny,” he found himself wandering south in search of something to ground himself. He ended up studying soil science at Cal Poly and launched into a vineyard managing career after college. After working for a few big name vineyards in the Napa and Sonoma area, he fell in love with the idea of pioneering in a relatively unknown vineyard region. His travels brought him to the Columbia Gorge where he planted 2 acres of Rhone varietals and started Domaine Pouillon with his wife in 2005.
I credit my parents with giving me a strong sense of being able to accomplish anything I set my mind toward. I set out early from my family’s farm, ready to shake the hay seeds off and moved to California where I worked as a dolphin trainer. This experience led to an epiphany on a small submarine, where I decided that wide open spaces, dirt and sunshine were where my passions lay. Since college has been the obvious choice for many aimless American youths, I attended Oregon State University. Slowly working my way through a degree in Communications and Technical Stage Management, I discovered another great passion: cooking. I like to say that instead of going to school for a cooking degree, cooking put me through school. 11 years of experience in various restaurants doing everything from shucking oysters to making chocolate truffles filled my mind with a sense of what was important to me: good food, great people, and excellent wine.
When I met Alexis, we had a common goal in mind: make wine, live life, and love every minute. Even 12 years after beginning our winemaking and lifetime partnership, we still collaborate on the wines and our customer’s experience on a daily basis. I hope that when you visit us, you feel our love through the wines, the striking landscape, and the laughter of our children.
When we planted vines in 2007, it was only natural to farm sustainably: it’s what we know. Our estate vineyard plot had been an abandoned alfalfa field– sprouting pine trees and weeds. It was in a fragile state, depleted of minerals and organic matter. Slowly over time we have nursed it back to health using organic compost, cover crops and thoughtful animal grazing. We could have used conventional methods to turn it around faster, but the soil would have continued to suffer and become a simple medium for the vine’s root system, not a nourishing soil for the whole grape vine.
There are no chemical sprays used in our vineyard. We strive to assist the whole ecosystem of the vineyard by looking, listening and being a part of nature ourselves. When you walk through the vineyard, you will not see perfectly manicured lawns, blank patches of dirt under the vines, or tightly hedged rows of grapes. What you will experience is the delicate balance of nature: a birds nest hidden in the leaves, hundreds of species of insects, a hare resting in the shade as hawks fly overhead, and native plant species covering the ground under your feet. Among this riot of the natural world are the grapes that inspire us. The fruit grown here is special because it is a part of this organic environment, influenced and flavored by this unique terroir.