Tuesday 5 May 2009

Oldest Winery in France - at Aspiran

As you go north on the main N9 road from Aspiran to Nebian and Clermont l'Herault you pass over the river Dourbie. To the left, just before the trees and bridge is the archaeological site of the oldest winery discovered in France.

The winery dates from the 10th year AD, the time of Emperor Augustus. The owner was the Roman Quintus Julius Primus - his name has been found inscribed on pottery made in kilns on the site.

The pictures show where enormous Dolias pots with a capacity of over 1200 liters were buried in the ground. The winery was sophisticated - water circulated around the Dolias to keep the wine cool, much like modern stainless steel tank systems.
The building included luxuaries such as a large indoor pool, toilets and piped fresh water.
Below his is the site of the pottery where the Dolias along with the smaller amphora (used to transport the wine) were made. The site is on the route to the north from Agde and the Via Domitia - the Roman coast road from Italy to Spain. Two amphora have been found in Rome inscribed "I am a white wine from Beziers" and suggest that wine was sent to Rome from here.
The archaeologists, from the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), have been staying at the old Aspiran school. Here a team is excavating an area that included a bakery, kitchen and supply store.

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