The conquest of the name

Anxious to defend the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape growing reputation, the winemakers will be at the origin of the current system of AOC. Judging the 1919 Act on designations of origin too general - it only defines the naming areas - They decide it is time to put in place stricter regulations to protect their wines. Also, in 1923 they go to Château Fortia delegation owned by Baron Le Roy Boiseaumarié, winemaker and a lawyer by training, to help them in this task. Alert, he replies: "I do not mind, but on one condition is that you give the same example of honesty and discipline. "

Winegrowers were well aware that the best way of promoting their wines was to improve quality. However, with no legislation to protect the appellation, fraud was a real problem: grapes and wines from outside the region entered the commune in order to benefit from its prestigious name. In 1894, winegrowers established a Syndicat Viticole, presided by Mayor J. Ducos, to put a stop to this fraud and guarantee the quality of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

The 1919 wine appellation law did not put a stop to fraud, as it was too general and essentially limited to the question of geographical boundaries. As a result, Châteauneuf-du-Pape winegrowers decided it was time to enforce more specific legislation to protect their appellation. In order to do this, a delegation of vignerons went to Château Fortia and asked Baron Le Roy de Boiseaumarié, a lawyer and winegrower, to help them with this tremendous challenge. The baron told them, “I would be happy to help, but on one condition: that you yourselves act as an example of integrity and rigor”. The constituent meeting of the “Châteauneuf-du-Pape winegrowers union” took place on 4th October 1923. Baron Le Roy was elected President.

Starting in 1923, the Syndicat took legal action at the Orange lawcourt in order to define all the conditions necessary to entitle wines to the name of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Syndicat was a forerunner since the 1919 law did not set forth any requirements whatsoever regarding production. Since the court could not base a ruling on this law, it assigned three experts to establish “the conditions of territorial origin and faithful, constant, and local traditions concerning the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation”.

Their report, published in 1929 after four years of deliberations, set a precedent for all subsequent rulings. It essentially echoed the Syndicat’s demands. Châteauneuf-du-Pape winegrowers were therefore the first in all of France to impose production parameters. Their example, soon followed by many other French vignerons, paved the way for the creation of a nationwide set of appellation regulations.

Thanks to Baron Le Roy’s enthusiasm and legal expertise, the Cour de Cassation (French court of last resort) defined appellation boundaries and production conditions on 21st November 1933 after several years of proceedings. May 15th, 1936, decree of the appellation is published and Châteauneuf-du-Pape becomes the first wine-making AOC of France.

Despite some minor changes, in 1936,1966,1992 and 2008, they are still in force today and continue to protect and guarantee the quality of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. The vineyards now covers 7907.4 acres in the towns of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Bédarrides Courthézon, Orange and Sorgue.