The history of the Emmanuel Houillon & Pierre Overnoy winery goes back to Pierre Overnoy's father, who owned a 15-hectare farm in the French commune of Pupillin, near Arbois, which included almost three hectares of vineyards. From the late 1960s, Overnoy focused only on viticulture. From the beginning he relied on organic cultivation of his winery and avoided the use of pesticides, which made Overnoy one of the pioneers of organic winegrowing.
Pierre Overnoy continued this tradition. His goal was to produce wines with the terroir of the Jura region, which express the minerality of the soil and the maturity of the vintage. With the help of his friend and mentor, the well-known wine researcher Jules Chauvet, Overnoy managed to produce top-quality wines on the mineral soils of the Jura region.
In 1990, a young man named Emmanuel Houillon from the neighboring region of Franche-Compté began his apprenticeship at Pierre Overnoy's winery. Houillon describes himself as a lost soul, but found his calling working with his mentor Overnoy. For several years, Houillon worked in parallel on his technical baccalaureate in viticulture and at the Overnoy winery. After graduating, Pierre Overnoy hired his protégé as an employee. By this time, the two had already developed a kind of father-son relationship. When Pierre Overnoy retired in 2001, Emmanuel Houillon and his wife successfully continued to run the winery as owners. Pierre Overnoy is still at their side with advice and action on a daily basis.
The wines of Emmanuel Houillon & Pierre Overnoy
For many years, Pierre Overnoy's wines were only popular with a small group of restaurants and wine shops in France. Interestingly, however, there were some die-hard lovers of Overnoy wines in the USA early on. This rarity of the wines from Houillon & Overnoy has changed significantly over the past few decades. Their vintages are now among the most sought-after wines far beyond the borders of the Jura and France.
The wines from Houillon & Overnoy have a special feature that wine drinkers should definitely know: the two winegrowers only produce wines whose quality they consider to be ready to drink. This means that Houillon & Overnoy have no set rules for how long a wine should be aged in cask or bottle. Through regular tastings, Emmanuel Houillon decides when the right time has come to bottle and release each cuvée. Depending on the quantity and quality of the grapes, often only part of a vintage is bottled. The rest is allowed to develop further in the barrels. At Houillon & Overnoy, one looks in vain for chronologically arranged vintages as with other wineries. Several vintages of the same wine are usually released together and the specific vintage remains only a guess.
Another unique feature of the winemaker is that with the exception of the Vin Jaune and the Vin de Liqueur, all cuvées have the same label. The only way to tell them apart is by the color of the wax on the top of each bottle: white for Chardonnay, yellow for Savagnin, red for Ploussard.
Despite the great demand for his wines, Emmanuel Houillon still refuses to expand his winery or buy grapes. Even in years of climatic adversity, in which he was almost unable to harvest, he remained true to his natural philosophy. To this day, the wines from Houillon & Overnoy stand for an unadulterated naturalness that is rarely found in viticulture in this form.