A THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY

« THIS LITTLE MARITIME TOWN MAKES
A WHITE WINE, THE BEST IN PROVENCE
»
Excerpt from the 1868 edition of the Grand Larousse Universel.

Over 2,600 years ago… The Phocaeans founded Marseille and planted the very first vine stock around Cassis bay. At the time, they introduced the Ugni blanc, which is still planted today. Later, the Romans continued growing vines and making wine in Cassis and they shipped the wine on boats, as is witnessed by the wine amphora found in the waters around Cassis. The first written records referring the vineyards in Cassis can be traced to the Middle Ages. In 1381, a notarised text described the presence of land used for vines at the place called “L’Arène” next to the sea. At the start, the vines anchored on the Mediterranean coast and later began to climb the slopes of the surrounding hills. In the 16th century Cassis began what was to become its destiny. The vineyards specialised in the production of white wines. A revolution in Provence, where red wines dominated everywhere else.

In the 19th century phylloxera put a halt to the thriving grape crop. The phylloxera epidemic, caused by an insect, destroyed all the vines in Cassis. A small group of determined winemakers succeeded in reviving the grapevines. They planted new vines on American rootstock. At the same time, they definitively oriented grape production towards the making of dry white wines.

On 15 May 1936, Cassis vineyards made history. They earned the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation at the same time the idea of AOC became an official ranking. So, Cassis became the very first French vineyard to be distinguished by the AOC appellation, crowning a thousand years of wine-making history in this little seafaring village in Provence.
The Cassis vineyards continued to thrive in the 20th century. The winemaking families were fiercely devoted to the soil and increased the planted surface areas. The movement gathered force and influence. Over the last twenty years, the area planted with vines increased from 180 to 215 hectares. Cassis winemakers simultaneously invested in modernising their facilities. Since 2012, the vineyards in Cassis have become part of the Calanques National Park. They are the only vineyards in France to be totally included within the scope of a national park.