Wine growing during the centuries

 1. Before 1866.

The source to know about the area with vines during the centuries is the censiers, books with registers of the cultivated areas.  The lords let taxes be paid according to owned fields.
From the oldest known sencier of Chateauneuf from 1344 you can estimate that the area with vines must have been at least 285 hectares. This is only a few years after the arrival of the popes to Avignon and it's most likely that the area with vines has been of that size for a  long time before the popes. It's possible that the popes' arrival had some influence but it was certainly not the popes that started vine growing in the town.
The majority of the inhabitants had vines on an average of one hektar per owner. Parts of the vines were on grazy grounds and the yield was very limited and only for comsumption of the owner and his family.
In 1500 Chateauneuf counts 350 hectares of vines. During the XVI century two thirds of them disappeared and in 1616 there was only 97 hectares left. The reasons for this retreat is not quite clear, but several factors contributed to the abandonment of the culture of the vine: loss of the population, wars (of religion) and epidemics (plague).
In the XVIII century the vineyards developed considerably. In 1763 the land register of the community counts 425 hectares and 668 about 1800. Nearly the same as at the time of the big catastrophe the phylloxéra, which arrived to Chateauneuf in 1866.

During the XVIII century many things changed in wine growing in Chateauneuf. The area with vines raised considerably. Some properties emerged as leading producers: La Nerthe, Condorcet, Fortia and Vaudieu. Just before the phylloxera in 1866 these properties' area and production was: Nerthe (16 hectares and more than 300 hectolitres), Condorcet (20 hectares and 300 to 400 hectolitres), Fortia (300 hectolitres), Vaudieu (200 to 300 hectolitres). A century before there was only one property with more than 5 hectares, and the great majority of the properties are still very small. The area and the output tells that the yield at that time must have been 15-20 hl./ha. This is certainly much more than ever earlier. It is estimated that the yield in former centuries has been 5-10 hl./ha. or less. The wine growing is becoming intensive.
La Nerthe was the leading producer and sold wines all over France and abroad even to Boston and Philadelphia.
It's uncertain when the different types of vine plants were introduced in Chateauneuf but there seems always to have been
many  types of vines

Table from "CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Mémoire d'un village"

Grenache seems to have come from Spain in the first part of the XIX century. In 1830 the owner of Condorcet planted "Cirac", known from Hermitage (Syrah) In 1866 just before the phylloxera 13(!) types can be counted in Chateauneuf: Picpoul, Clairette, Terret Noir, Picardan, Grenache, Tinto (Mourvèdre) Syrah, Counoise, Ugni, Pascal, Bourboulenc, Muscat and Blancan (unknown today).

About 1850 Inspecteur Général de l'Agriculture, Victor Rendu, visits Chateauneuf and tells about the winemaking here in his book, "AMPELOGRAPHIE FRANÇAISE". According to him fermentation takes place in wood for 15-18 days sometimes more. The wine is after fermentation left in barrels for up to three years. It seems to be a vinification very much like the way it's done today. Victor Renu was pleased by what he saw and tasted. He could conclude about the vines from Chateauneuf: Nothing has to be changed!

2. The phylloxera crises 1866 - 1880

Announced to Roquemaure in 1865, the phylloxéra comes to Chàteauneuf the following year, in 1866, like a true plague: a third of the vineyard is destroyed the first three years and another third the ten following years. In 1880, there remains only two hundred hectares of vines against seven hundreds before the disease. The vine growers do not have any means to fight against this evil as they are unaware of the cause. They give it the name of "pourridié" because the roots of the affected vines are rotted.
As you can imagine much power of the authorities in France was put into searching for a solution of this problem of great financiel importance.

As we all know the solution was to graft the vines on rootstocks from American vines. They were restistant to phylloxera. There are different varieties of these American vines and it's important to choose the right rootstock fitting the soil and the vinetype you want to graft. Fortunately all but Mourvedre was grafted without great problems. The suitable rootstock for Mourvedre was found after World War II and therefore this variety had a setback in Chateauneuf.
In Chateauneuf du Pape the first to understand the importance of the resistant rootstocks was Joseph Ducos at La Nerthe. He became the first to replant this way and became of great inspiration to other wine growers in the town. The replanting started in 1880 and 20 years had to go before the area of vines was the same as before the disease.
Every vine today is grafted as they did it then.
t's known which vines were planted at La Nerthe in these years:
"Giving liquor, heat and the marrowy: Grenache and Cinsault in the maximum proportion of two tenth.

Giving solidity, preserve, the colo
ur and a refreshing taste: Mourvèdre, Syrah, Muscardin and Camarèse (Vaccarese) (four tenth).
Giving vinosity, approval, freshness and a particular bouquet:
Counoise and Picpoul (three tenth)
Bringing the smoothness, fire and the brilliance: Clairette and Bourboulenc (one tenth)".
All the 10 mentioned varieties became allowed grapes when the rules of the appelation was decided 40 years later. At that time 3 more was included: Terret Noir, Picardan and Roussanne.

3. The wineproduction from 1900 until today

It has to be noticed that the numbers on the table to the left is concerning Chateauneuf du Pape commune and not the entire appellation.
Today the area in Chateauneuf du Pape commune is about 1660 ha., approximately 52% of the appellation (total 3200 ha).
Since 1940 the area with vines has increased only about 250 ha.

The 1660 ha of today is very near a limit where all possible fields are planted with wines.
The annual production today is about 100.000 hl. in the appellation and also this amount is the maximum output there will ever be.

Table from "CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Mémoire d'un village"

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