History of Wine in Corrèze
History of Wine in Corrèze
« Allassac produces the best wine in Bas Limousin, intoxicating and warming… » Extract from the ecclesiastical and civil calendar of Limousin, 1762 in « La Corrèze à vol d’oiseau et en zig-zag », Yvon Chalard, Simon Louradour, Léon Dautrement, 1989
A Wine-Growing Culture
- Corrèze has been a land of vineyards since ancient times that were cultivated in the Gallo-Roman era. Vineyards in the Limousin region were an everyday reality in the Middle Ages. Wine was a requisite drink for Christian liturgy, as well as for everyday meals. Wine is part of the staple diet for inhabitants of the Limousin region. As of the 6th century the testament of Aredius (or Saint Yrieix, founder of churches and an ardent pilgrim) already mentioned domains in the Brive Basin. At the foothills of the Massif Central, these vineyards cultivated on steep slopes are grand cru: wines from Vertougit, Sajueix, Voutezac, Allassac and Vignols…enjoyed an excellent reputation.
- Initiated by clerics, the cultivation of vineyards becomes a necessity to inhabitants. While the bishops of Limoges and religious communities have their vineyards, secular lords own the main domains. The bourgeoisie also have their own vineyards near towns. Our ancestors embrace investing and devoting substantial amounts of money to buying, as well as producing wine, with the equipment required for its preparation and conservation.
The Golden Age
- Grapevines in Corrèze experience a Golden Age in the 19th century: the Corrèze vineyard reaches 16,735 hectares in 1840, more than the current vineyard in Alsace (15,500 hectares)! The vineyard is the main source of revenue for farmers in Corrèze: it shapes the landscape (certain slopes are terraced), the organisation of entire villages (Le Saillant and Vertougit), the design of merchant and winegrowers’ houses (with wine press, vats and casks on the ground floor). Vine huts, small houses with slate roofs where the tools are stored, multiply in the vineyards. Voutezac still has over a hundred or so today.
The Phylloxera crisis
- Phylloxera hits Corrèze from 1876: the disease devastates vines and causes a serious economic and social crisis. The ravaged vineyard is replaced by alternative industries: market gardening, apples, cattle, etc. that become more cost-effective with the arrival of the Brive-Paris railway.
- There has always been a winegrowing tradition in Corrèze, but on a small scale: who doesn’t know an elderly person or a neighbour who maintains a few vines, proud to make their own wine? The past cannot be forgotten. We are looking at our heritage with a fresh pair of eyes with a desire to renew wine-growing savoir-faire based on these historical centuries.