THE CASTLE'S VINEYARDS
One of the main project of the castle is to (re)create the vineyards, on the hills of this big house. Having back those vineyards was the dream of Olivier of Menthon.
HISTORY OF THE VINES IN MENTHON-SAINT-BERNARD AND AT THE CASTLE
Overlooking the village of Menthon-Saint-Bernard, the castle’s hills, exposed to the eyes of the visitors and of the inhabitants, have always been used as vineyards, and this until the Second World War.
In 1730, the “mappe Sarde” (Sardinian maps) shows that a huge part of Menthon-Saint-Bernard is covered with vines.
At the time, the biggest exploited plot (n°1525) had a surface area of 9.53 hectares and was situated at the bottom of the castle (see the opposite picture). It’s at this exact same place that the association “Clos du Château” decided to replant the vineyards.
This plot was named “Mas les Voutes” and was producing in 1730, 19 barrels per “journal” (old unit of measurement) and per year.
In order to get an idea of what exactly the barrels represent, we have to take a look at the brochure called “Les anciens poids et mesures de Haute Savoie” ("The old weigh and measurements of Haute-Savoie"), published in 1989 and written by Albert Dhelens, land surveyor.
Actually, the decimal metric system was adopted, in Savoy, thanks to the Royal Edict of November 11th 1845, of Charles Albert, King of Piedmont-Sardinia.
So, before this date, and for the mandate of Faverges:
- A barrel was equivalent to 35 “pots” of Albertville, that being 64.575 litres.
- A “journal” represented 2 948.3816 m² which, for the plot n°1525 was equivalent to 31.98 “journals”.
This way, we can deduce that the production for this plot was, whether it was a good year or not, around 2 065 litres, that being a poor return.
It’s around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century that the vines are being destroyed by waves of phylloxera (a type of aphid).
The exploitation of those vines continued for a while until disappearing completely in the years 1930.
THE ASSOCIATION “CLOS DU CHÂTEAU“
The goal of the association is to replant vines at the castle by helping Florent Héritier, wine-grower in Frangy, who was chosen for his savoir-faire, his expertise as well as his one-time actions on site.
Beyond the reappearance of the vines, the goal is also to make available to the public, and especially to the schools, an educational system which highlights the rural history of our region.
Therefore, the goal for the year 2018 is to plant 1.2 hectares, and then, 0.8 hectares next year in 2019.
August 2017: statuses are created. The name of the association is chosen: “Clos du Château”, in reference to the last known label.
September 2017: deposit of the association at the prefecture. Maurice of Menthon is the President.
October to November 2017: preparation of the field, clearing, facilitation of the access, chopping down bushes, suppression of the invasive vegetation, cleaning of the terrace walls, burning of green waste, grinding of the field, etc.
December 2017: first General Assembly. Opening of the subscriptions as friend of the “Clos du Château”.
January 2018: choice and ordering of the seedlings. The variety of vine being “Altesse”, “Mondeuse” and “Jacquère”. Decision on how they should plant it (following the curves of the field, with strings and sticks). Also, following the place of intervention of the animal traction (horse), in March 2018, for the use of the harrow (see the video below).
Autumn 2021 (at best): first harvest planned.
The vineyard in 1929
Plan of the vineyards beneath the castle in 1389.