History of Champagne wine between the 1st and 10th centuries
The appearance of the first vineyards in Champagne took place between the third and the fifth centuries.The first vines come from the South of France. They were introduced by the Greeks and the Romans.The current city of Reims was then Durocortorum, metropolis of the "Belgian Gaul." To extract the stones that were needed to build this important city, many large quarries were dug. They are chalk pits turned into cellars which nowadays are used by great champagne houses.
The Testament of Saint-Remi, apostle of the Franks during the 5th century and bishop of Reims, already mentions the vines growing activity.The legend says that while Clovis (King of France in 496) was fighting the Alaric barbarians, Saint Rémi offered him a barrel of best best wine which gave victory to the king of France.This scene is represented on a Renaissance tapestry displayed in the Museum of Reims.
During the following centuries, the monks extended their vineyardbecause they neededwine for mass, as well as for their personal consumption and for the hoststhey welcomed in the Abbeys. There was no INN yet at the time. Monks also supplied the Lords and local population. Year after year, it becomes a prosperous business which contributed to the maintenance of the Abbeys and to charity activities.
Meanwhile, some Lords also planted vines with the purpose to elaboratetheir own wine.