The vineyard history is strongly related to the one of the city. This antique city had a significant harbour and was the centre of numerous businesses such as potteries, draperies and, of course, wine prodution in the region, which had a natural taste of pitches and whose amphora was sold very expansively especially in Roma.
“Vienne, at the end of the first century, was known as much for its wines as for its richness and power; its wines’ superior quality was as famous as the monuments magnificence and as the taste of the inhabitants for Letters and Arts”.
BAFFERT Pierre, Annales Dauphinoises, 1901
Roman Amphora found in Vienne
These vineyards have survived the Roman Empire era and remained still during Middle Ages, thanks to the numerous religious communities present in Vienne. The wine is, in this period, dependent of the ecclesiastics that made it grow.
« Me, Ermengarde, queen dowager, late-Rodolphe’s wife, I give back to the Saint Church, built out of the southern door of the city of Vienne, in honor of the Saint Apostles Pierre and Paul, some grapevines which were formerly the monastery property. They are located along the wall of this city, in “le Val des Jardins”, and have for borders and limits, in the morning the highway, which is told median; in the evening, the river Rhône, in the north (or next to the Saint-Pierre Church),the small “Fuissin” stream; at noon, other lands belonging to the Saint-Pierre Monastery”.
September the 20th, 1057 charter, extract from the « Cartulaire de Saint-Pierre »
Reconstructed press at Saint-Romain-en-Gal Archeological Museum
We can find marks from these grapevines all along our history and the 1624 poet Claude Expilly hymn is already talking about « Seyssuel with good wine ». Vineyards are no longer dependent of Churches and reposition themselves on the best hillsides soils.
“We notice in Vienne parts of the soils, dependent of the Dauphiné, Seyssuel wines, from the “Porte-de-Lyon” and the “Ravette”. Seyssuel is a village located in the North of Vienne, but one league far from it: the grapevine is growing in dry and arid hills, formed by schist fragments; half the Côte-Rôtie production is growing there, and it is sensitive to dryness: the wine is pale, light and with one of the most enjoyable perfumes. Lyon consumers it a lot and we sent many in the kingdom north. In Seyssuel is made as well a white wine, pale, crystal clear, light and dry, but very loopy. “La-Porte-de-Lyon” wines are getting collected on the terraced hillsides at the north of the city. The principal consuming are Vienne and Lyon, where it is considered as Seyssuel Wine”.
FAUJAS DE SAINT FONDS Barthélémi, Histoire naturelle de la province de Dauphiné
Saint-Vincent, wine-growers Patron Saint, present in the Saint-André-le-Bas church sacristy
More recently, François Rouault, in his book about Isère agricultural geography, indicates us that more than 6,000 hectares of grapevines was planted in Vienne surroundings at the beginning of the XXth century, for a production of almost 150,000 hectoliters and wines of this area are very well-considered.
“Vienne, 24km south from Lyon, harvests, on the hillsides surrounding it in the north, wines with personality, spirit and with a lightly scent of violet that make them enjoyable”.
JULLIEN André, Topographie de tous les vignobles connus, 1816.
The ancient «La Batie» castle, today ruins, vines have just been replanted few years ago
And, along last century, grapevines got abandoned because of the competition with wines of other regions that are easier to produce, because of other activity sectors developments more profitable, because of property pressure…
“The grapevine still gets a significant role in Vienne area. Certainly, craggy hillsides of the banks of the Rhône seem almost abandoned; on these terraces which used to offer excellent wines, the bramble flourished on ancient vine stock, culture was not “paying”. Some old walls, some neglect houses, assure that, during last century, many farmers have become city-dwellers, and, unfortunately, came to the council estate to ask the importation that ruins them to give them food that was produced by ancestors on French soils”
GAVAILET Marcelin, Vienne en France, 1947.
« Chapiteau de la Primatiale Saint-Maurice », we can find grapevines on many of them.
Until 1996, wine-growers got linked to this Vienne wine-making history, pursued it so as “Vienne la Vineuse” renewed with its vineyards.