Vines and wine : a long history dating back to the Romans
Mule trails, the salt road, route of seasonal sheep migration … the past vestiges of the AOC Languedoc-Montpeyroux land reflect the village’s fascinating history linking it with the spirit that is still alive in the village of Monpeyroux. And nowadays, with its wine bar and fêtes, the wine producers’ spirit continues to grow.
The twenty or so producers in the village are made up as much by old Montpeyroux families as by newcomers attracted by this constantly evolving and much talked about appellation.
Montpeyroux, a link between sea and mountains
The village has a fascinating, varied history : Once an important trading post, it was also a halt for pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela, and its architecture still reflects the activities of past residents. Many of the old houses along the main road as well as twisty lanes are still used for producing wines. The vaulted cellars were also home to wells, olive presses and verdigris production. The Château du Castellas clinging to rocky slopes keeps a watchful eye on the whole village. Thanks to its geographically splendid situation, the reputation of Montpeyroux wines has developed over the centuries.
A long wine history dating back to Roman days
With the appearance of three Roman villas came agricultural activities which gave their names to some of the village streets (l’adissias, la mélia, les mazes). Then, in the first century CE, the Romans concentrated on extending existing vineyards and developing trade. At this time all the goods and pottery – brick coloured tableware which was extremely popular in Roman times - from Gaufresenque (an archeological site near Millau) passed through the single street of Montpeyroux.
A tradition continued through the Middle Ages
This wine producing tradition lasted through the Middle Ages until the 15th century, a period when all Montpeyroux’s hillsides were given over to vines. Each resident owned at least one parcel of vines as shown in the ‘compoix’, rudimentary land registers, with surveys and details of each piece of land. Verdigris wells, which provided copper acetate, were common in the village cellars and useful when used for fungicide or colouring.
The 17th and early 18th centuries were golden ages for local business. Teams of mules successfully delivered local Montpeyroux goods, including wines, throughout France. But it was the 19th century which saw viticulture truly take off when the Marly decree (1770) authorized land clearing on a grand scale. Vineyards soon covered 276 hectares rather than a hundred and yields increased from 20 to 50 hl/ha creating a tradition which lasted until the phyloxera crisis.