Pierre Gonon farmed some of Mauve’s best slopes in the heart (some say the birthplace) of the St-Joseph appellation. In 1989, he turned direction of the property over to his sons, Jean and Pierre. This friendly, talented team of brothers has since earned a reputation as the domaine of St-Joseph. This appellation sits along the western bank of the Northern Rhône, with its neighbor, Hermitage, across the river. When it gained its A.O.C. in 1956, the area under vine was very small, centered around the town of St-Joseph and neighboring villages Mauves, Tournon, and St-Jean-de-Muzols. The eastern exposure in the vineyards allows for fewer hours of sunshine, lending an unusual freshness and joie de vivre to these Northern Rhône whites and reds.
In 1971, the appellation was expanded, and with it many over-cropped, forgettable wines soon followed. The Gonon brothers break this paradigm completely, as they both farm and ferment in the old-school style. They work their nine hectares of land without any chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides, using all-natural composts. They just recently started the process for organic certification, although they have been farming this way since 2004. Their low-yielding vineyards span three of the original communes of St-Joseph, all sitting on prized granite bedrock, the best of which was purchased from the famous Raymond Trollat, now retired, in 2005. Vineyards are replanted with cuttings from their strongest vines to perpetuate healthy rootstock and continuity of style. Once in the cellar, they ferment the wines traditionally in open, oak vats, with regular punch-downs by foot. Their wines are gutsy and wild, while still showing the freshness typical of the appellation.