Gabriel Franchère, a native of Montreal and a clerk in John Jacob Astor’s fur empire, was my great-great-great grandfather. He voyaged to Oregon in 1811 on the ill-fated ship Tonquin, helped establish the original Fort Astoria, and spent three years exploring the great beauty of this state.

In his memoir – translated by my grandfather, Hoyt Franchère – Gabriel documented his impressions of what is now Portland:

We then passed the entrance of the Willamette River, above which the tide ceases to be felt. Our [Chinook] guide informed us that up this river about a day's journey, there was a large waterfall and beyond it the country abounded in beaver, otter, deer, and other wild animals. Here, where we were, the rows of oaks and poplars lining both banks of the river, the green and flower-covered prairies glimpsed through the trees and the mountains seen in the distance presented a smiling and enchanting prospect to the observer who loved the beauties of simple nature. We camped for the night on the edge of one of these beautiful prairies.


I set out on my own adventure, my own pursuit of the beauties of simple nature, after experiencing a Vouvray, of all things. It captivated me utterly and made me wonder, "What is this? Why is this so magical with my food? How did this wine come to be like this?" It launched an obsession.

After four years of working in wine shops in Chicago, I returned to Oregon and in short order began viticulture classes, grape farming, and winemaking. I was also a cellar rat at Illahe Vineyards, and that is the winery where I began making the Franchere wine. 2013 was my first commercial vintage.

My gentle winemaking regime ensures the wines express their central Willamette Valley origins. Fermentations are conducted exclusively with native yeasts and I never add enzymes, tannins, colorants, water, adjuncts, or gums. The wines are aged in used barrels and neutral tanks, and the end results are fresh, savory, and balanced.

When I am able to lease vines and vineyards, I farm along organic lines. Other fruit is purchased from trusted growers who farm sustainably, without irrigation or systemic herbicides.