Vines were already growing in Ardèche over 2000 years ago, well before the Roman conquest. In his work entitled "Natural History", Pliny the Elder tells of the invention of a grape variety "at Alba Helvienne". However it was not until the Middle Ages that the vineyards and Vivarais wines gained a degree of notoriety. In the 17th century, in his work entitled "L’Observation des travaux des jours et des champs" published in 1600, the respected French agronomist and pioneer of modern agriculture Olivier de Serres also sang the praises of the wines of Ardèche, declaring that they are “so precious and delicate that there is no need to look elsewhere”!
This century marked a turning point in the development of the vineyards which occupied some 25,000 hectares of land. So, the winegrowers decided to join forces and create cooperative cellars, a way of working together which still continues today.
In the early 1960s, Southern Ardèche counted only one appellation, called Côtes-du-Rhône de Bourg-Saint-Andéol (decree of Nov. 1937) and a few simple declarations under the name Côtes-du-Vivarais. But most of the production of Southern Ardèche was made up of ordinary wines which were snapped up to be used as wines for blending.
But a handful of winegrowers decided to change this economic model and concentrate on quality, which required a complete transformation of methods and mentalities. This led to the appearance of two parallel paths: the winegrowers of Saint-Remèze, Saint-Montan, and Orgnac l’Aven embarked upon a quality approach which led to their obtaining the Côtes-du-Vivrais VDQS (wine of superior quality) appellation in 1962, and then much later to the coveted AOC label in 1999. By this time tourism already had an important role in increasing the market for the wines. And the second path was that chosen by three winegrowers: Louis Delichères from Grospierres, Roger Champetier from Ruoms, and Raymond Manent from Vinezac, who focused on obtaining recognition of the Southern Ardèche wines as Vin de Pays, particularly through the Southern Renovation Plan launched as of 1973.
In both cases, the quality objective could not be achieved with hybrids, so it was essential to convert the vineyards. The hybrid vines were removed and replaced, depending on the terroirs, by the noble varietals of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Gamay, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot. Today, almost 90% of the land devoted to growing vines has been restructured and the Wines of Ardèche are now widely respected and appreciated.