Hirotake has taken a remarkable journey from Tokyo to St. Péray. He began studying Chemistry and Biology in Japan but left midway through his studies to study enology in Bordeaux initially because he was intrigued by Bordeaux wines. However while there his world was turned upside down when he tasted the brilliant wines of Thierry Allemand of Cornas and realized that he had to go to the Northern Rhone and work with him, which he did as soon as he could. Now he has chosen to work the steepest, hardest-to-work slopes. Ooka, which ironically means big hill in Japanese, then named his winery Le Grand Colline (big hill in French).
It was while working with Allemand that Hirotake became determined to make wines without additives. He produced his first vintage in 2001 from vineyards that had absolutely no treatments on the vines, not even those allowed in organic viticulture. He prefers to let the vines grow on their own, undisturbed.
His winery is more of a cave than a winery. Carved out of the side of a mountain, it’s intensely humid and moist, some barrels even have mushrooms growing on them. Hirotake considers a living environment to be an advantage. He thinks that these things are all part of the terroir of a proper cellar and an essential part of his wine.