Learn about the rich history of our region, from the time of Ancient Rome to the present day.
The Greeks and then the Romans, settling in the region, were the first to discover its suitability for winegrowing and to start trading in wine.
Vines were planted around Blaye well before they reached the Médoc, even though it is so close.
The reputation of Blaye wines soon reached Rome. Vineyards sprang up along the estuary shore, their owners taking advantage of an expanding and thriving overseas trade.
The vines inherited from the Romans were still there in the Middle Ages and the wine kept its reputation, even if the vineyards had retreated to the areas immediately around the trading ports.
Blaye’s strategic importance was confirmed under Louis XIV with the construction of the Citadel by Vauban, who regarded it as the greatest success of his career. The town’s military vocation over the next five centuries greatly disturbed the region’s trading activity.
With warfare coming to an end, the 18th century saw the return of a more peaceful way of life. Experiments with new grape varieties, better farming methods and innovative winemaking techniques breathed new life into the wine trade and brought new prosperity.
Unfortunately, Blaye did not escape the terrible epidemics that ravaged French vineyards in the second half of the 19th century. In 1853, wine production in the Blaye region plummeted to only 10% of a normal year’s harvest.
It took all the courage, hope and passion of the local winegrowers to gradually re-establish the vineyard’s reputation.
It was not until 1860 that progress started to become apparent in the quality of the wines, reopening the door to trade, first with Paris, then with Holland, England, Belgium, Germany and beyond.
The creation in 1905 of Appellations d’Origine (officially defined appellations with their origin in local custom) paved the way for a century of technical and legislative progress. The creation of the Bordeaux AO in 1908 was followed in 1935 by the introduction of the famous AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée), which regulates areas of production, grape varieties, authorised yields per hectare and the minimum natural potential alcohol level of the grapes. Three AOCs were created in the Blaye region in 1938: Premières Côtes de Blaye Rouge (red wines), Premières Côtes de Blaye Blanc (white wines) and Blaye Rouge (red wines).
The second half of the 20th century saw the emergence of modern winemaking, passionately promoted by the great Bordeaux œnologist Emile Peynaud.
Then in the 1980s and 90s the quality revolution reached vine-growing, greatly helped by young Blaye winegrowers who got together in 1987 to form the Maison du Vin de Blaye.
In 2008, with the creation of the Côtes de Bordeaux, designed to make satellite Bordeaux appellations more visible and more readily understandable, Premières Côtes de Blaye became Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux (just as Côtes de Castillon became Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux, Bordeaux Côtes de Francs became Francs Côtes de Bordeaux and Premières Côtes de Bordeaux became Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux).