Battlefield vineyards: Part 1

As armies have tramped their way across Europe over the centuries, so have they plundered its cellars and fought and died in and destroyed its vineyards.

harvest at ch de saumur in sept from Berry's book of hoursThere are few vineyards on the continent that have not, at some point or other, seen the fatal tide of battle roll over them.

One can take many accounts of the First or Second World War, particularly the latter, and read of local actions taking place in this Italian vineyard or that French one. The damage wrought by those wars on Champagne and Alsace, Italian, Hungarian, Austrian and German vineyards was immense.

Of course, in the era of total war, where front lines run for hundreds of miles, the all-encompassing nature of warfare cannot but consume all landscapes laid before it.

As such, the battles here are all from the age of more limited war when generals strove to pick the ground on which to fight extremely carefully – and sometimes the positions they chose were vine covered.

Many of those vineyards have either disappeared since or indeed new plantings have gone in where before there were none. Some of these battles and campaigns are famous: Cannae, Poitiers, Porto and Champagne. Sometimes their wine history and fame far outweighs their military past: Roche-au-Moine, Dürenstein-Krems, Macon and Nuits-St-Georges.

Yet all of these battles are important or significant for various reasons. Some, not always the most well-known, had a decisive influence on the course of European history. Others are indicative of the importance of wine and viticulture to a region’s economy as well as the sheer scope and extent of wine’s commercial reach; the trade it engenders and how hard those bonds can be to cultivate and how easily they can be broken.

This first part looks at four battles/campaigns from the classical and medieval period and the next on the titanic struggles between Napoleonic France and her enemies.

2 Responses to “Battlefield vineyards: Part 1”

  1. Fascinating article. Thank you

  2. Jill BARTH says:

    This is very interesting, you offer a lot to learn and contemplate here. Thank you!

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