The Paccot family has been cultivating their vineyards for nearly 50 years when Jules Paccot, the son of a French seasonal worker from Savoy, bought vineyards in Féchy in 1917. His son, Roger, created the winery known as La Colombe in 1961 and established its reputation. In 1978, Roger’s eldest son, Raymond, returned to the estate after a few years of teaching—a trip to Africa opened his eyes. He realized he missed the vines and felt they were calling him back. It was then that he switched careers to become a winegrower and passionately committed oenologist. He began studying at the Changins Technical School of Viticulture and Oenology, and after several internships abroad in both California and Spain, returned to Féchy to take over the estate. Succession has always been gradual and smooth for the Paccots. Roger gradually reduced his work load and responsibilities when Raymond returned to the family estate, and the same is currently true for Raymond’s daughter, Laura, who has been involved in the decision-making process for quite some time. Laura also studied at Changins Technical School of Viticulture and Oenology and has completed apprenticeships in both South Africa and France (most notably in Burgundy at Domaine Dujac).
Over time, the Paccot family has been exploring their region’s terroirs in hope to gain a deeper understanding of each vineyard’s personality. Today, Raymond Paccot and his wife Violaine are committed to farming and winemaking methods that respect natural rhythms; they refuse to compromise quality at any juncture throughout the winegrowing process. They have increased their vineyard holdings in Vaud from eight to twenty hectares and were one of the first producers in Switzerland to employ biodynamic practices. Their goal is to contribute toward revealing the full potential of the great terroirs in the canton of Vaud—particularly by creating innovative blends.
Sitting on the northwest shore of Lake Geneva, cradled by France’s Jura region to the west and the Alps to the southeast, Vaud is a real gem. Domaine La Colombe is located in the regional AOC of La Côte, one of Vaud’s six wine regions, which is located between Lausanne and Geneva. The winery itself is in the village of Féchy, as are the majority of their holdings (their Petit Clos parcel is in the neighboring village of Mont-sur-Rolle). Together, these two appellations produce a significant portion of the canton’s white wine. Chasselas, locally known as Dorin, is Vaud’s strong suit accounting for nearly 90% of total production. This pale and delicate grape expresses a deep fruity character and is often backed by minerality, smokiness, and flint. As for the reds, we are thrilled to be working with Colombe’s Pinot Noir and Gamay!
In Vaud, vineyards sit 450 to 600 metres above sea level but, thanks to the lake, experience rather mild growing conditions despite their high altitude. The lake effect helps grapes ripen slowly and reduces the risk of spring frost. In addition, most vineyards are southeast facing—an ideal orientation for vines as the sun warms the soil in the morning, and prevents grapes from being exposed to the searing afternoon heat.
Much like the Valais, the landscape of this region was carved by the Rhône Glacier. When the glacier disappeared 12,000 years ago, it left behind moraine deposits which have gradually decomposed to form a variety of soil types. The soils of La Côte are generally deeper than those at Lavaux, with clay and limestone predominating. Sand, gravel, and silt crop up periodically. Classic calcareous marl soils are to be found higher on the slopes, including the upper half of Brez. The lower on the slope one goes (closer to the lake), the deeper (and cooler) the clay soils are. For Pinot Noir and Gamay, the clay is finer and offers a deeper, denser character in its wines.
The Paccots gradually realized the importance of healthy, natural winegrowing that respects the soil and moreover, the planet. In 2000, they began employing biodynamic techniques in the vineyards and have since received Demeter certification. However, this was just the beginning; their research is ongoing and they are experimenting in various areas including permaculture, cosmoculture, and plant-based treatments. In short, the Paccot family is continually furthering their knowledge so that they are able to produce pure, authentic, and natural wines.
The same goes for both wines and people: we cannot change them, just help them to reveal their true selves. Respecting the personality of every terroir. Understanding and interpreting and enhancing it. —Raymond Paccot
In the cellar, their simplified process has become clear. All wines are fermented with native yeasts to ensure freshness and vineyard expression. Before harvest begins, they sample every parcel and ferment the clippings in barriques. Once harvest officially begins, they add the most active ferments from their green harvest to their respective cuvées in tank to kickstart fermentation. This process is known as pied-de-cuve and ensures an ambient fermentation process that helps facilitate precision. All whites are crushed by foot, fermented in stainless, typically undergo some portion of maloloactic fermentation (a process quite common in Switzerland to help moderate excess tartness), and are aged on their fine lees. Reds often see some portion of whole cluster, macerate for 20 days on average, receive pigeage 1-2 times a day in the crux of fermentation, and are aged in neutral barrels. There are no additions to any of the wines and no sulphur is added until bottling, if at all.