French vineyard declared historic

Aug. 12, 2012 at 8:53 AM

SARRAGACHIES, France, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- The French government has declared a 190-year-old vineyard, which has seven grape varieties not grown elsewhere, a historic monument.

The Pedebernade vineyard in the village of Sarragachies in southwest France is the first living thing classified as a historic monument, Britain's The Daily Telegraph reported Sunday.

The Pedebernade family believes the vines to be at least 190 years old, meaning they are among the few to survive the phylloxera disease, which wiped out most French vineyards in the late 19th century. Their survival is thought to be because of the sandiness of the soil, preventing the disease from attacking the roots.

Olivier Bourdet-Pees, head of Plaimont wine cooperative, which campaigned for the designation, said this type of listing used to be restricted to stones.

"It's quite simply an exceptional site. It's not just the age of the vines, but also the extraordinary number of grape varieties. Above all there are seven grapes that are completely unknown and exist nowhere else on the planet. They have completely disappeared. We don't even know their names," he said.

Eight generations of the Pedebernade family have tended the 600 plants in a small plot, but because of the 20 variety of grapes, no wine is made from the harvest, the Telegraph reported. They are sent to a local wine cooperative where they are blended with grapes from other vineyards.

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