The Gallo-Roman
It seems thatthe works of Pliny the Elder already mention the fact that wines had been made in the Baronnies since the Gallo-Roman Era. Archaeological discoveries prove that wine was indeed present at this time and that bread, olive oil as well as wine, the staple trilogy of the Mediterranean diet, have been consumed for 2,000 years.
The Middle
In the Middle Ages, the vine was present everywhere. As early as the end of the 10th century in the region of Nyons, where, at Saint-Auban-sur-l'Ouvèze in 1060, mediaeval charters referred to the rights of lords and monks over wine and vines. Numerous monks received a grape harvest tithe. At this time, vines were planted on well-exposed slopes which were sometimes transformed into terraces, as was the case at Rochebrune. The wine was distributed to inns and cabarets, sometimes in bottles, as at Mirabel-aux-Baronnies, and its sales represented a source of revenue for local communities.
Dominican monks. The vineyard was widely cultivated by Dominican monks. Under their influence, the vineyard developed and continued to do so over the centuries.
The destruction of the vineyard. A large part of the vineyard was destroyed by the extremely cold weather of 1832. Plantings increased into the middle of the century, despite the appearance of oidium. This was followed by the phylloxera crisis of 1870, which decimated these lucrative plantings, as it did in most other French vineyards. The viticultural crisis had thus begun. In Drôme, two thirds of the surface area planted disappeared in ten years.
The start of a new era. The vineyard rose from the ashes. The first cooperative cellars gradually came into being, such as the one in Nyons, created in 1923. From decade to decade, viticultural activity began to take shape again.
The Baronnies took off. The Association for the Defence of the Producers of the Coteaux des Baronnies was created in 1974. The setting-up of the first private cellars contributed to the increasing reputation of the wines of the area. The publication of the decree (cf. Going further - Decree) delimited the geographical area of the vineyard of the Baronnies. It stood apart within the vin de pays category, thanks to the richness of its terroir and its distinct style. This distinction was given the seal of approval which became the signature of the wines of an appellation "Vin de Pays Coteaux des Baronnies", which would later be renamed "Indication Géographique Protégée (Protected Geographical Indication) Coteaux des Baronnies".
In search of quality. The Coteaux des Baronnies developed by means of a programme of experimentation with different grape varieties and then a programme of restructuring, thus choosing to go down the road of quality rather than that of quantity. The Baronnies sought to be different by choosing grape varieties adapted to this countryside of altitude and by attempting to stress their exceptional terroir.
Restructuring of the vineyard. Thanks to a system of pulling up and replanting, this decade made it possible to adapt the viticulture to this mountainous region. The grape varieties were selected with care, so that the wines made could achieve perfection. With the new plantings of Gamay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay springing up here and there, a wind of change was blowing. The blending possibilities gave the artisan vine-growers the freedom to create cuvées rich in expressiveness. It was their love for this terroir, with its superb qualities, that gave producers the incentive to take it to the limit. The Coteaux des Baronnies experimented, micro-vinified, unceasingly learning and questioning their work to allow the terroir to express itself.
Aspiring to an area of appellation. This is a place distinguished by its microclimate, vinification and unusual soils. The producers were seeking recognition for their area of production through an appellation of origin. The grape varieties grown – Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne for the white wines, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache for the reds and rosés – showed good capacity to flourish at these altitudes. Faced with a market undergoing a radical transformation, the Coteaux des Baronnies suffered, but this magic area, "Grandeur Nature", became a centre of gravity. The producers were coming together, the younger generation was returning with its new ideas and the vineyard was preserved. The project to create a Provençal Baronnies regional nature park was started in 2008 and aimed to promote the activities and products of this still unspoilt terroir. Not only was nature supporting the economy, it was offering a new way forward.
A structured vineyard of more than 500 hectares (1,235 acres). A structured vineyard of more than 500 hectares (1,235 acres).