The Punch House Pours French-Style Favorites
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Melissa and Jon LeBars -- the sweet, funny, and tenacious couple behind the Punch House say growing up, wine wasn't really a "thing" for either of them.

“We were in our 20s and I managed the ice cream shop and he worked at the coffee shop next door and he would come and buy and ice cream from me every day and then come back and get more toppings in the same day, so it was a really cute, over ice cream every day," Melissa LeBars says.

They connected over music, big dreams, and eventually, wine.

“We’ve always wanted to do something, own our own business, always wanted to do something great and amazing, wine was on our minds, going to school and going to wineries to seeing how everybody did it, we just wanted to do that," says Jon LeBars.

“We started this as avid wine tasters and you can’t help but just start dreaming and we just fell in love with the never ending subject of wine. As soon as you think you know everything, you can just keep diving again," says Melissa, "started with carboys at our place, our first vintage was 2017, one barrel, barely fit through the door of our a-frame outbuilding on our last property. That was round 1, we’ve just pushed to double every year. It’s just the two of us, we have really awesome helpers for events, but we do everything and we double where we can and last year, we sold out of all of our wine except for one vintage.”

Jon worked at several wineries, behind the scenes and front of the house. He learned what to do, but he says more important, he learned what not to do.

He says some of the best schooling was in the Rogue Valley, at Kriselle Cellars.

“I kind of sought out Kriselle because I liked their wine and I wanted to make really high quality wine and so what better way to work with something who does that. I always liken it to the movies, if I wanted to go make a movie, I would go work for Spielberg or Lucas or something like that.”

They both say they learned a lot from other wineries and tasting rooms and were excited to put their own spin on their own space.

They found that space about three years ago and couldn't pass up the views.

“I feel like it’s serendipitous that’s how it worked out, it was definitely rough when we got it, we’ve done a lot of work and we have more dreams to bring to life here," says Melissa, "it’s breathtaking up here, I just feel like you are literally driving up and out of the fray, coming up onto the hill, take a deep breath, this is beautiful.”

Jon makes the wine on site and buys fruit from across Oregon. There's just one rule.

“It has to be French, because we’re French so we use French varietals, French oak barrels and we do it in a simple way.”

And the name on the label? Jon explains, "punch is another word for juice and if we do everything correctly, that juice turns into wine. And in a lot of French places, you’ll see champagne houses, or chardonnay houses, so year, it kind of stuck. And we didn’t want The Punch House to be about us we want it to be about this idea that you can come and have this nice experience and great wine and it’s not connected to somebody.”

They make less than 1,000 cases a year, but are continuing to grow, altbough they don't want to make a lot of wine.

Quality matters more here than quantity.

“It’s really just the respect of the things you’re using, the grapes, the place you get them from, the people. And also, we respect the people we make wine for," says Jon.

And after a 15-minute or so interview, that's what it all comes down to.

The people.

“We love it. Everyone that comes up our driveway, they’re like our little people, we take care of them, they come sit down, we serve them, if they get up to get their next tasting, we feel like we’ve failed, because we just want to serve everybody," says Jon.

Melissa agrees, "it’s so fun hearing a deck full of people just laughing and and having a great time. It’s super heart-warming, it’s working, you know.”

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