Vine training

Thanks to descriptions by ancient authors and vivid accounts of the region of Pompeii, we have an idea of the appearance of vineyards in Gaul. Recent excavations in southern Gaul, which revealed traces of vine plantations, have provided key evidence for a reconstruction. Traces of vines have been found near buildings of the Villa Loupian.

The soil was turned over by hand and when the hoe struck the compact geological soil horizons, excavations in the form of trenches (sulci) described by Columella, or a series of oblong holes (alvei), which survived despite later agricultural activities.

Vines were planted in tight rows, with a density that could exceed 10,000 rootstocks per hectare. A vine was planted at either end of the hole, or at regular intervals along the trench. The initial excavation was most often supplemented by a perpendicular ditch for planting a shoot to use for propagation by cuttings. The rows were tight, and there was not always enough room for intercropping. The major outlines of this vineyard are readily visible, by keeping terracing to a minimum and perhaps avoiding putting down stakes, out of concern for intensive cultivation of the land and the search for better yields, including the use of moist soils.

Medias

Interactive document - The Clos de Roumèges

The Clos de Roumèges

The vineyards of an estate on the Etang de Thau. The wine-making estate at Roumèges had a vineyard very close to its buildings. Along the access road, carefully aligned ditches are found within a boundary wall, which indicates that vines were planted in tightly-spaced rows.
© R. Bourgaut, CCNBT
Interactive document - Ditches for planting grape vines

Ditches for planting grape vines

These oblong ditches correspond to the description of alvei in ancient sources materials. The series of ditches may correspond to various phases of replanting, or the practice of layering, which involves reproduction by the taking of cuttings.
© R. Bourgaut, CCNBT
Interactive document - Valence-sur-Baïsse (Gers)

Valence-sur-Baïsse (Gers)

Vine branch mosaic, fragment preserved by owner.
M.-P. Raynaud / UMR 8546 CNRS-ENS
Interactive document - Funerary stele of Vallo (Nîmes, Gard)

Funerary stele of Vallo (Nîmes, Gard)

Stele with triangular pediment dedicated to "the twin shades of Vallon ad Quartina, the best of brothers". Vine branch at the base of the stele.
Photo : Dejan Stokic / Musée archéologique de Nîmes
Interactive document - The hoe, a multi-purpose tool for working in both fields and vineyards

The hoe, a multi-purpose tool for working in both fields and vineyards


© Fonds Villa-Loupian, CCNBT