St Christol : A Terroir full of history
Saint-Christol is famous for its wine for 24 centuries. As early as the 12th century, the “Hospitaliers de l’Ordre de Saint-Jean-de-Jérusalem”, set up a guest house to welcome the pilgrims, the salt caravans…They will play an indisputable role in the development of the vineyard of this terroir. Today the appellation AOC Languedoc Saint Christol is on the way to the recognition in AOC of its red wines.
From the middle of the 12th century until 1792, an “enclave” entirely administred by a religious order with humanitarian vocation “l’Ordre des Chevaliers de Saint-Jean-de-Jérusalem” that is one of the specificities of the Saint Christol municipality. Over the years “l’Ordre” changed its name to become “l’Ordre des Chevaliers de Rhodes” and then “l’Ordre des chevaliers de Malte”, finally transformed more recently in NGO of the same name. During severals century, thanks to its commander, Saint Christol actively participated in the life of the Mediterranean basin.
« Les Hospitaliers », ambassadors of the assets of the territory
The “Hospitaliers de l’Ordre de Saint-Jean-de-Jérusalem” set up at the 12th century a guest house called “l’Hospital”, which was used to welcome the pilgrims of the Tolosane road, the salt caravans and transhumances, heading towards the Cevennes. Etablished later in a Castle (headquarters of the Saint Christol commandery), they quickly take avantage of the quality of their implantation land.
The vast international network and the orientale bases (Rhodes, Malte) which they benefit are particulary conducive to trade (spices, stuff, wines). They make discover and appreciate the local wines to the major of their world around them, like Alphonse de Poitiers, le Duc d’Anjou, Saint Louis or le Tsar Nicolas II. These grape varieties from the soil of Saint Christol already have the reputation of conserving perfectly all their qualities, even during long travels.
A considerable asset that contributed to their success in Anglosaxons, Scandinavian and Russian countries.
Increasing areas of vines
From 1500, the increasing of the population on the territory requires the culture of food productions.
The vineyard area will continue for several centuries to spread. The vine, then confined to the plain, reserved to cereals , advanced to the hill The clearing of the wooded slopes began, and it was not until the beginning of the eighteenth century that the vines were laid out in alleys, in order to be plowed and not only to be digged with spade or pickaxe.
A vineyard that organized itself
1951 marked the recognition in VDQS of Saint Christol, followed in 1952 by the creation of the Saint Christol wine growers union. In 1985, the terroir integrated the Coteaux du Languedoc family and obtained the Coteaux du Languedoc-Saint Christol Appellation. Since 1995, the wine growers set up targeted actions with the AOC Languedoc union: regular technical meetings, training, better knowledge of the environment, implementation of a reasonable protection of the vineyard, etc…