The vineyards run from north to south across the gentle foothills of the Chaine des Puys, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The appellation Côtes d’Auvergne and its five wines have been AOP certified since 2011.
The history of Auvergne’s vineyards dates back to as far as 50 B.C. Auvergne volcanic wine was recognised as the “wine of kings” from Henry IV to Louis XIV. It was also the preferred wine of flamboyant characters such as Picasso, and even Napoleon Bonaparte. The rise of the “bougnats” (Auvergne citizens in Paris) is also linked to the history of wine because Auvergne citizens moved to Paris by taking to the rivers to sell their cask wines.
The heyday of volcanic wine was during the XIX century: at that time we became the 3rd wine growing region in France with 200,000 employees and owners, and 45,000 hectares, which is three times the current size of the Alsace wine-growing region. In the 20 years between 1975 and 1995, and using the same soils and varieties, Auvergne wine increased its alcohol content by 2% thereby halving its yields, which offers clear evidence of the improving quality of these wines.
The vineyards sit alongside the Limagne, a geological fault line that has resulted in the numerous lava flows that give the Auvergne wines their quality and characteristics. The Auvergne terroir is unique thanks to its volcanic properties and is found at altitudes of between 350 to 600 metres. Below ground we find elements such as “pepperite” (from the word “pepper”), which gives our wines their spicy notes, pozzuolana or even basalt. The features of this volcanic terroir are also reflected in its mineral notes and crispness.
The volcanoes on which our vines grow, were listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018. Less than 10 vineyards across the world share the unique attribute of growing vines on volcanoes. Volcanic wines are extremely rare and Auvergne is the only French terroir able to produce this type of wine under an Appellation d’Origine Protégée.
The department of Puy de Dôme today has 400 hectares of vines. Desprat Saint Verny represents over 200 hectares of vines cultivated by our wine making partners, and 30 hectares cultivated by our partner Pierre Goigoux.