The origins of Côtes-du-Rhône
The privileged geographic situation of Roquemaure on the right bank of the Rhone river, contributed greatly to its important economic development. Since the middle ages, wines from Côte du Rhone (singular, since wines were only produced on the right bank of the river) were shipped all around France from Roquemaures port. In 1737, the royal advisor to the King decided that all the wines of Côte du Rhône should be identified by the letters CDR, branded on all the staves of every barrel. This is therefore the birth of the Côte du Rhône appellation.
Local winegrowers imported American vines in 1884. They saw signs of rotting, and an unknown disease which they called “la tache de Roquemaure” (the Roquemaure mark) appeared on the vines. Within 10 years, the entire French vineyards was severely dammaged. Actually, the American plants were carriers of a kind of an aphid that transmit the disease called Phylloxera vastatrix. It attacks the roots of the vines and destroys them.
In 1868, Maximilien Pichaud the owner of the Chateau de Clary, came back from Rome with relics of St Valentine hoping to save the vines. A procession was organized to bring the relics to the Church of Roquemaure, where they still are today. Actually, it is the grafting process that saved the vineyard. The best way to produce a vine that is both resistant to phylloxera and that makes good quality grapes, is to graft an European plant on an American root, since the American vin have evolved to have several natural defenses against phylloxera.
The re-birth of the Rhone vineyard started in 1937 thanks to this technique. Our winery was founded in 1922 and was strengthened by this event. Today, we still work in the most traditional way added with modern winemaking methods
Every two years on February 14th, the Roquemaure dons traditional costumes from this period to celebrate St Valentine.