Why our AOC range, which produce the 7 Grape varieties from Alsace, is named “The Princes Abbés” ?
Well, here is a little historical explanation :
Christianity in Alsace is thought to have started from 310 AD.
A bishopric was erected in Basel for the region of the Haut Rhin and another one in Strasbourg for the Bas Rhin region.
In 728, Saint Pirmin founded the Murbach Abbey, situated in a little village in Guebwiller’s valley.
This Benedictine Community dominated the entire region during 10 centuries. They possessed strongholds and castles, had their own currency, and paid an army. The abbots came from the noblest families of the Rhin valley.
By the ninth century, the Abbey was very wealthy, it had large possessions of land. Even the town of Lucerne in Switzerland belonged to the Abbey. The abbots were named Princes of the Holy Roman Empire and the monks wore the title of knights.
The peak of the ascension of the Abbey of Murbach was in the XII and XIII centuries. In 1298 the Emperor Frederic II officially gave the abbots the title of Prince Abbot (Prince Abbé). At this period, the Abbey of Murbach was one of the 3 most important strongholds of Basel’s Bishopric.
During the XII Century, because of its wine-growing, Guebwillerbecame one of the more important towns in Alsace. At the instigation of the Princes Abbés (princes Abbots) the wines of Kessler,Saering and Kitterlé were sent to Austria via Basel and Lucern.
They were so well known and appreciated that some merchants delivered other wines under Guebwiller’s brand names.
In order to avoid this corruption, in the XVII Century, the winegrowers decided to put a Certificate of Origin on every barrel dispatched from their cellar.
In this way they became the precursors of the “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC), now well known in the wine industry.
However, the supremacy of the Princes Abbots came to an end with the French Revolution. The monks left the Abbey and settled in Guebwiller.
The “Princes Abbés” were the first to sell the wine from Guebwiller and because they took care of the vineyard for one thousand years , we pay tribute to them in naming our AOC range “Princes Abbés”.