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Landmark dates in the history of French wine

600 BC The Phoenicians establish the city of Massilia and bring vines to Gaul
125 BC Planting of a huge wine region crossed by the Via Domitia: the ‘Narbonnaise’
1st Century AD Vines in the Rhône Valley
92 Emperor Domitien orders half of Gaul’s vineyards to be ripped up as they’re now competing with Roman wines (a ruling with little effect)
2nd Century Vines arrive in Bordeaux
276 Emperor Valerius Probus allows vines to be replanted
3rd Century Vines in the Loire Valley
312 Date of first manuscript proving vines existed in Burgundy (Euméne d' Autun)
4th Century Vines in Champagne and the Moselle Valley
350 Vines are everywhere in France
816 The Synod of Aix-la-Chapelle encourages bishops and monasteries to expand their vineyards
1098 Citeaux monastery founded, the architect of vineyard expansion by monks
1152 Marriage of Eléonore of Aquitaine with Henry II, Plantagenet King of England – beginning of wine trade between Bordeaux and England
1241 Bordeaux wines favored: other producers have to wait for Saint-Martin’s day to ship their wines on the Garonne river to customers
1305 Discovery of distillation and invention of the word ‘eau-de-vie’ by Arnaud de Villeneuve
1336 Burgundy: Clos de Vougeot vineyard created
1351 Retailers banned from using a name that wasn’t the wine’s country of origin, with the threat of a fine and confiscation
1360 Royal Charter classifying wine into 3 categories: French wine (Ile de France), Burgundy and ‘highly prized’ wine (Beaujolais, St Pourçain)
1395 Burgundy: the Duke of Burgundy Philippe le Hardi bans growing of Gamay – ‘infamous Gamez’ – in favor of pinot noir.
Middle Ages Paris and the Ile-de-France are France’s foremost vineyards
1477 Burgundy joins France (Louis XI)
1492 Vines are gradually spread across newly discovered territory
1531 A monk discovers turning still wine into sparkling. It’s in Limoux: the world’s first brut fizz is born
1553 Henri IV is baptized with ‘jurançon’ wine
16th Century In the Southwest, the Dutch back white wine production for distillation and turning it into “Brandevin”. The birth of Cognac and Armagnac

1695 In Champagne, the Abbey of Hautvilliers’ cellar master, Dom Pérignon, perfects putting corks on sparkling wines
Up until the 17th Century, wine is the only drink that can be kept safely. At the end of the 17th, it became movable thanks to the bottle and cork.
1728 King’s permission to ship wine in bottles in baskets of 50 or 100
1731 Louis XV bans new plantings except in sites capable of giving quality wines
1776 End of Bordeaux wines being favored: the Turgot Edict allows free passage for the kingdom’s wines
1802 Invention of chaptalisation (by Chaptal) (must enrichment with sugar)
1803 Counterfeit laws
1817 1,977,000 hectares of vines recorded in France
1852 Oidium (type of mould) in Europe
1857 Henri Marès perfects sulfuring vines to combat oidium
1857 Birth of the railway company linking Paris to the Mediterranean, opening up the route for wines from the south
1864 Phylloxera arrives (insect)
1868 Jules Planchon perfects grafting, which will allow phylloxera resistant vines to develop
1866 Pasteur publishes his studies on wine
1878 Mildew arrives
1889 Legal definition of wine: “produced from complete or partial fermentation of fresh grapes or grape juice” (law on 14th August)
1907 Languedoc growers’ uprising, caused by overproduction, drop in wine prices and the various anti-fraud laws not having any effect, results in the 29th June 1907 laws being passed – at a cost of human lives.
1919 Law on appellation areas
1929 Law permitting sugar to be added to wine
1935 Creation of the ‘Institut National des Appellations d'Origine’ and AOC areas by Joseph Capus
1936 Laws on champagne production and its labeling
1945 Creation of VDQS wine areas
1948 Law to establish the ‘Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux’ (regional trade federation)
1950s Chemical farming appears (synthetic fertilizers)
1955 Creation of the ‘Diplôme National d'Oenologue’ (National Winemaking Diploma)
1956 Bad frosts
1960s Herbicides and agrochemical treatments appear
1970 Birth of the ‘Union de la Sommellerie Française’ (UDSF, French Sommelier Association)
1991 The Evin Law
2000 First part of the ‘Sommelier au Meilleurs Ouvriers de France’ (Sommelier as Best Workers in France)
2004 The Evin Law is relaxed for wine, cognac and armagnac in press and poster advertising
2005 European wines can now display the ‘Agriculture Biologique’ logo (organic viticulture)

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