History of Alsace

According to historians, vine growing in Alsace is supposed to be one of the oldest special crops although wild vine seems to have existed for a very long time.

In 58 BC the Romans invaded netAlsace. They planted their own vines on the hills. Their wine was so good that it brought severe competition to the Italians’.
So far that under the pressure of the Peninsula’s producers the emperor Domitien ordered the wine stocks to be destroyed.
But Romans loved wine; they preserved its culture and protected men who had its knowledge. So the law said: “anybody who kills a winegrower will be fined twice as if he had killed a simple ploughman”.

Pagans Alamans then invaded Alsace. After that, Christians Francs annexed the region. Numerous monasteries were built at this period (end of VI and early VII century) like the one of the Princes Abbés of Murbach.
Monk’s knowledge of the vine growing in Alsace was decisive through their conservation andtransmission of farming practises they had inherited from Antiquity.
It is also through the prestige they had conferred to the vine culture (in the middle ages, the people found stealing grapes had a hand cut off…).
Already by the IX century Alsatian wine was exported to the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.

Unfortunately, in the XVII Century the “Thirty Years” War was a huge disaster for Alsace and it left the soil without carefor a long period.

The French Revolution had also important consequences :

  • the confiscation of Church goods
  • the breaking up of Alsace
  • the beginning of free trade.

In 1870 Alsace was annexed by Germany and about the year 1900 a very serious disease ruined the entire vineyard : the phylloxera.
Then came the First World War and all the vineyard problems were amplified, as there was an importantlack of labour.

Between 1920 and 1940 the vineyard found an astonishing boom (Ernest Schlumberger bought 2 500 plots of vines during this period) but the Second World War came to devastate Alsace.

At the end of the war, the government suggested the creation of cooperatives in order to help winegrowers in rebuilding the cellars.

That’s why nowadays 3 sorts of winegrowers exist :

  1. Cooperatives
  2. Negociants
  3. Winegrowers (Schlumberger Domain)