Pardigon, a wine-producing villa (Cavalaire, Var)

A rural farm near Heraclea Caccabaria

To find the port of Heraclea Caccabaria, mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary, one must look to the Bay of Cavalaire, and perhaps in Cavalaire itself. Research by the Centre Archéologique du Var, under the leadership of Jean-Pierre Brun (CNRS), have led to the discovery of several villas along this portion of the Côte des Maures.

The Pardigon 3 villa was built on the seashore; it had a surface area of roughly 2,000 sq. m and was built after the mid-1st century CE in a single construction phase. Until the early 3rd century the original layout remained unchanged. Along the beach was a colonnade flanked by a belvedere-tower. A corridor led to the centre of the dwelling, which was organised around a central courtyard measuring more than 160 square metres and bordered by a brick-columned peristyle. Among the rooms that opened onto a garden with trees and boulders, a dining room was located along a main axis – its presence was underscored by a large portico and a modification of the gallery's intercolumniation along the lines of a Rhodian peristyle. The villa's corridors provided access to other parts of the residence – to the west, a set of rooms set around a second, smaller peristyle, and to the east, a bathing area extending across some 100 sq. m. The drains of the baths also served a set of latrines located in a rear courtyard. A final corridor to the north led to an agricultural courtyard abutting the storeroom. An imposing storehouse

The warehouse, which is divided into two parts, measured 52 m x 12 m, and 15 metres from floor to gable. At one end, a 130 sq. metre room held grape-pressing equipment, whose foundation still survives. Brick vats for the grape must, each with a capacity of 5,000 litres, were located in a cellar measuring about 500 sq. metres.

The grape must left over from the crushing and pressing process may have been cooked down, as evidenced by the discovery of equipment consisting of a small vat and the base of a boiler – likely a defrutarium as described by Columella. The defrutum was a preparation used in cooking, but it was also used to stimulate fermentation. It was not prepared in vats, but in dolia.

The dolia, 115 in all, were placed in five rows, with walkways between them. They were set in a rubble base up to their necks, making them easy to access and reducing the effects of changes in temperature during the wine-making processes and storage phases. They became sticky with use, and the dolia bases that have been found show traces of this. The mouths of these dolia may have been closed with ceramic lids.

Each dolia had a capacity of some 1,500 litres, which means that the owner of the Pardigon estate could store some 170,000 litres of wine in his warehouse, made from vines that extended across, at a minimum, some twenty hectares.
Interactive document - Reconstitution of the Pardigon Villa

Reconstitution of the Pardigon Villa

Reconstitution of the Pardigon Villa (Cavalaire, Var). Jacques Bigot, CNRS-Institut de Recherches sur l'Architecture Antique.
© J. Bigot, CNRS-IRAA
Interactive document - The Roquebrussane Villa (Var)

The Roquebrussane Villa (Var)

The Grand Loou (La Roquebrussane, Var), provides another example of a villa and the vitality of research of wine-making in southern Gaul. Jean Pierre Brun and Gaëtan Congès led archaeological efforts here between 1981 and 1983.
Cliché Jean-Pierre Brun
Interactive document - Rustic calendar from Saint-Romain-en-Gal

Rustic calendar from Saint-Romain-en-Gal

Panel depicting grape pressing, Autumn. Late 2nd–early 3rd century CE mosaic.
Musée d'archéologie nationale de Saint-Germain-en-Laye n°83116 © Photo RMN - Jean Schormans
Interactive document - Rustic calendar from Saint-Romain-en-Gal

Rustic calendar from Saint-Romain-en-Gal

Panel depicting the sealing of storage jars, Autumn. Late 2nd–early 3rd century CE mosaic.
Musée d'archéologie nationale de Saint-Germain-en-Laye n°83116 © Photo RMN - Jean Schormans
Interactive document - Wine warehouse of the Pardigon Villa (Cavalaire, Var)

Wine warehouse of the Pardigon Villa (Cavalaire, Var)

The placement of the dolia within the warehouse can be partially reconstructed based on the bases of recipients found in situ.
Fonds Jean-Pierre Brun
Interactive document - Vat and defrutarium

Vat and defrutarium

Vat and defrutarium (apparatus consisting of a vat and the base of a boiler) from the Pardigon Villa (Cavalaire, Var). Defrutum was a preparation used in cooking and also to trigger fermentation. This did not take place in vats, but rather in large ceramic containers known as dolia.