Vineyard of Condrieu
Considered nowadays as one of the oldest and greatest vineyards of the world, its history was however fraught with difficulties. Located in the Northern Rhône Valley, it has several times been extremely close to die out as a victim of razzia, war and phylloxera.
Heir to the prestigious vineyards of Vienne, Condrieu prospered due to the numerous monasteries in the region until the French Revolution in 1789. During this prosperous period the wine was held in esteem by the Pope of Avignon, and the mariners of Condrieu even popularized it down to the Mediterranean coast by grace of carrying it as cargo in their travels. This region also had the reputation to produce very high quality wines that were sold for gold in Paris during the 17th and the 18th centuries. Unfortunately, the phylloxera crisis at the end of the 19th century, followed by the devestating World War I and the industrialization of the valley heavily affected the vineyard’s integrity.
When the AOP was created in 1940, only 10 hectares (~25 acres) were remaining from the 170 (~420 acres) recognized by the appellation’s decree.
Nowadays the reach of the appellation has grown to the size of 200 hectares (~494 acres), all planted on the hillsides bordering the Rhône River. Perched on terrasses bolstered by stone walls, the vines grow, descending in rows down steep granite hillsides below Mount Pilat. This extreme terrain however renders it impossible to utilise modern machinery to cultivate and harvest the grapes on the vine.
Topography and climate
These granite hillsides have mostly Southern and South-Eastern exposure. As a result, this shelters them from cold Northern wind but allows exposure to the warm and dry wind blowing from the South, ultimately protecting the vineyard from potential maladies.
Its climate is moderate and continental, dry and hot in the summer, with regular showers during the rest of the year.
Three cuvées are produced, « Les Ravines », « Chéry » and « Heritage » from six certain parcels located above the village of Condrieu, named Côteau de Chéry, La Roncharde, Côte Chatillon, La Caille, Vergelas and Corbéry.