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Châteauneuf du Pape
Côtes du Rhône
Châteauneuf du Pape

Tavel has always been the land of vines and winegrowers: the remains of a Roman-time cellar were found in Tavel, still containing great amounts of grape pips, proving the importance of the wine industry at that time.
The reputation of Tavel is centuries-old: Ronsard, Philippe le Bel, the Popes of Avignon, François 1er and Louis XIV loved and praised this wine for its qualities. A quality that winegrowers have always sustained forcefully through the ages; thus, on the 8 April 1716 the consuls of Tavel asked that authorities forbid any wild import of grapes that would harm the reputation of Tavel wine [1]. Then, on 10 September 1737, a royal decree authorized Tavel to be part of those villages to bear the CDR (Côte du Rhône) seal on its barrels, a seal which was the first to define an appellation covering several districts [2].
In those days vineyards covered 375 hectares in Tavel and were the main source of income for the village of about 200 families. A great period of expansion followed, and in 1819 the Vineyard reached 721 hectares. But then, the phylloxera disease almost destroyed the whole vineyard: from 800 hectares in 1868, the vineyard dropped to 50 sickly, and barely exploitable hectares, in 1870. The village population itself dropped from 1314 inhabitants before the phylloxera 611 inhabitants in 1931.
Villagers tried to diversify their activities: raising silkworms, making olive oil, small-scale agriculture or, in some cases, trying to get hired in the surrounding phosphate mines. Hopefully, this only lasted a few years, and by 1887 Tavel winegrowers once again believed in their vineyards.
1887 was the year when the first American stumps were bought and transplanted in Tavel: they represented the only efficient response to the phylloxera plague [3]. By 1914, the Vineyard reached 195 hectares, then 260 in 1926 and 960 today. The energy developed by winegrowers can still be found today in the defense of Tavel wines, its reputation and lands of production. In 1902, an association was created grouping owner winegrowers in Tavel to protect the wines of Tavel, to preserve its genuineness and typical character. In 1928, this association started a long struggle to obtain an appellation that would define the vineyard lands of Tavel; in 1936 Tavel was one of the first wines to obtain the AOC acknowledgment.

Nowadays, most inhabitants of Tavel perpetrate their efforts for better quality, trying to use as few pesticides as possible to preserve the health of man and environment: Tavel is among the first pioneer villages to have developed reasoned agriculture [3].
Today, Tavel wines are found in all the wine menus of restaurants that have obtained three stars in the famous Michelin guide. Tavel wines export well and are found on all the tables of wine connoisseurs throughout the world.


[1] La trame du vignoble, page 104, Jacques Maby, éditions A.Barthélemy, Avignon.
[2] Part of this historic corps of Côtes du Rhône we find: Tavel, Lirac, Saint Laurent des Arbres, Saint Géniès de Comolas, then later: Orsan, Chusclan et Codolet.
[3] The phylloxera is a louse that lives on the roots of a plant and quickly destroys vines.
[4] Reasoned agriculture is a recent method to fight against disease and parasites in vineyards: it consists in observing the lifecycle of parasites closely, to determine just the right amount of pesticides to be used at the right moment. Pheromone capsules are part of this method.

Bibliography :
Les vins du Rhône et de la Méditerranée, aux Editions Montalba, by a group of famous writers amongst whom : Jean Giono, Marie Mauron, Henri Bosco et Pierre Charnay, 1978.
La trame du vignoble, Jacques Maby, Editions Barthélémy, 1995,
Tavel sur la Côte du Rhône, Jean Reboul, Editions Lacour, 1990,
Tavel Cité du Premier Rosé de France.

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