Innovation, passion and dedication are what drives Jean-Luc and Anne Colombo, whose contributions to Rhône Valley winemaking has remained unparalleled since 1984. Colombo’s innovative approach in the northern appellation of Cornas was nothing short of revolutionary; his expressive, character-driven wines have helped breath new life into this highly-prestigious and acclaimed appellation.
Jean-Luc, Anne and their daughter Laure, now head winemaker, continue to ensure the production of fine wines of typicity from major appellations of the Rhône Valley, as well as the Languedoc and Provence, while maintaining sustainable farming practices.
Jean-Luc Colombo is a man of warmth, energy, and an insatiable appetite for the “plaisirs de la table” (pleasures of the table), stemming from many joyous hours spent as a small boy assisting his mother, a talented restaurateur in Marseille. Jean-Luc’s subsequent decision to pursue the study of enology was inevitable. A devotee of the Syrah grape and armed with a pharmacy degree, Jean-Luc and his wife, Anne, opened their wine laboratory in 1984, “Centre Oenologique des Côtes du Rhône” and quickly developed a thriving reputation as a wine consultant throughout the Rhône Valley.
Soon after, Jean-Luc and Anne began purchasing their own vineyards first, in Cornas then throughout the Rhône and Languedoc - leading to the establishment in 1994 of Vins Jean-Luc Colombo.
Since the debut vintage of their single-vineyard Cornas, ‘Les Ruchets,’ in 1987, the Colombo’s have received critical acclaim for their wines, demonstrating the region’s capability to produce wines of tremendous grace and finesse.
Jean-Luc Colombo’s wines express the typicity of their terroir with elegance and character, from the Côte Rôtie in the northern Rhône to his Provençal roses. The heart of his winery is based in Cornas, the smallest appellation in the Rhône Valley. Covering only 325 acres, it is nonetheless highly delineated with incredibly diverse microclimates that make an extraordinary impact on the profile of the wines.
With a strong Mediterranean influence, summers here are warm. Ancient vineyards are found mostly on steep, south-facing terraced slopes. Decomposed granite soils and stressed growing conditions greatly contribute to the quintessential quality and character of Cornas wines.
Cornas AOC has strict laws. Irrigation is not permitted and maximum yields are 34 hl/ha. It is one of the few appellations in the world dedicated to Syrah. It is here where Jean-Luc fell in love with the Rhône, establishing his consultancy practice and winery. Vins Jean-Luc Colombo has three single vineyard Cornas, Les Ruchets, La Louvée and Vallon de l’Aigle, and one multi-vineyard plot selection for his Terres Brûlées.
At their hilltop homestead in Cornas, Jean-Luc and Anne have created a little paradise with abundant cherry and fig trees, flower gardens, and a stunning view of the Rhône Valley. The family cats, and dogs: Fitou, Corton and Syrah, help in the vineyards by chasing away the local rabbits. Two dozen chickens also do their part to contribute by producing eggs daily.
Living among the vines, the Colombo’s have adopted numerous sustainable and organic practices, including banning the use of any pesticides and encouraging the natural biodiversity of the land by planting trees around each plot and allowing wildflowers to bloom. Laure has begun the official certification process in 2012, to confirm the organic status of the Domaine.
Life-long beekeepers, they have dedicated their Côtes du Rhône wines, Les Abeilles (in French “The Bees”), to these precious animals who help pollinate their vineyards and fruit trees. As bee colonies have been declining globally at alarming rates, the Colombo’s have been committed to solving this problem with the development of the Bee Helpful Program, whereby a portion of each bottle sold of Les Abeilles goes to Entomology research.
An active member of the AOC Cornas Syndicate, Anne was elected President in April 2016, supporting the appellation on all educational, legal and communication matters. Jean-Luc and Anne have transferred their love for good food and good wine to their daughter Laure who joined the family domaine in 2010. Laure, a world traveler, brings delicacy and freshness to the winery and is now the official winemaker.
For their significant lifelong contributions to their country, both Jean-Luc and Anne have been awarded the French Legion of Honor, France’s highest highest civilian award.