Patrick Delaforce & Ken Baldry

'Family History Research '
Chapter 31 - The Bordeaux wine growers

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Chapter 31

‘for warmer France with all her vines’ WILLIAM COWPER 1751-1800

The Bordeaux wine growers

Bordeaux is the area of France where the world’s greatest wines are grown: the 1st growths are household names and many of the lesser growths are almost as well-known. Many books have been written about the area. Hugh Johnstons "World Atlas of Wines" gives an extremely good idea of how and where the great wines are grown. "Bordeaux et ses Vins" by Ch. COCKS and Ed. Ferret examines the whole area in the greatest detail with pictures of many of the wine chateaux.

This chapter shows some vignettes of the growers from a very early date.

Extracts from the Latin Chartes (Appendix III).


In 880 AD when Ad hemarus (AYMAR or AYMERIC) fifth Comte du QUERCI (QUERCY) died he left a will. In that will mention was made of one 'FORSAM AMALGERII' in 'VICARIA (Parish) SPANIAC-ENSI et NAVENSUM (Spanish & Navarre). Sen FAURCENSIS & MARCIN', Cambonem cum vinea (wines) de SARGA (LE SERGA). Later 'cum vinea quam de ARNALDO adquifiri', 'alodus quoque ineus BLAVINIACUS (BLAYE)' et 'SANCTI MARTIALIS FAURCENSIS'.

Cambon is near PAREMPOYRE 10 km from Bordeaux: MARCUM is MACAU near Bourg, outside Bordeaux: FAURCENSIS is modern ‘Le FOURCAS’ a hamlet in Listrac near Parempuyve. Saint-MARTIAL is near St Macaire and Saint-Genes in Entre deux Mers area. SARGA/LE SERGA is a modern SEGUR in PALENPUYRE. The Spanish princes of Navarre occupied Bordeaux from 840 AD as their headquarters whilst they tried to govern the Gironde and Gascony. (Source: Extract du Carbulaire de l’Abbeye de Beaulieu en Limonsin founded in 846 AD)


In 1009 in the heart of Gascony, south of Auch, the wine growers were noted "Guillelmns namque FORTO in eadam villa 1 casal (farmhouse) and 1 vineam.": "frater ejus EICUS GARCIA & unam vineam in vivo cavo.." "FORTO ARIBI (ARIBERT was William’s wife) quoque de ARTOMALO vineam optimum.." The full chart is shown in Appendix II. Extract from Carbulaire of the foundation of the Abbey St ORENTS of REGULA, diocese TARBES.


In 1030 "VINEA: FORT (G) ARSI (E) de GENARS quam dedid Sancto-Petrus de REGULA (LA REOLE)" Saint-Genès, near FOURS in the canton of BLAYE, near Bordeaux.


1026-1030 Gifts of "VINEA" to St Peter by "Guillelmus FORTIS, filius FORTIS Guilelmi" and "Guillelmus ARNALDI, filius ARNALDI FORTIS in loco qui vocatur MIRALT" (MIRAIL, near BAZAS). (Source: "Extracts from Carbulaire de Sainte PETRO de REGULA")


1062 Gifts by WILHMUS FORTI "frater" of BERNARDO, and his sons ARNALD and BERNARDUS ‘cum vineis’ to St JOHANNO Church at MORMES (modern NOGARO in the heart of Gascony).


1071 Guillaume-Bernard, Prince de SAVEZ "Au X siecle le FAU/S était le chef-lieu d’une viguerie mentionee dans un acte 998 AD un certain Raymond fut autorisé à conserver la propriété, a la charge au monastère de Saint-Theodard, le jour de la fete, une vente de 15 pains, 4 setiers de vin et un saumon. (Cartulaire de Saint-Theodard F Moulencq)


1102-1130 Guillaume FORTON, pretre (and his sons) "d’un cens (quit-rent) sur la moitré d’une vigne de St CIRICI de SALABOVE". (Cartulaire Saint-Seurin of Bordeaux by J-A BRUTAILS)


1110 ARNALD FORTON gave a VIGNE to St SEURIN of Bordeaux.


1244 Pierre and Helias FORT/FORTO lived in St-EMILION.


In 1254 the highest vineyard rent was paid in FOURC (modern Le FOURCAS in LISTRAC/MEDOC), 3 1/2d per rège of land. In FOURC in the GRAVES, vineyards were rented at 1 shilling for a rège, much the highest rent anywhere: the area was the richest and most abundant in vines - named La MEYT-deu-FORC, near LANGON.


1259 Guilhem FORT sold 2 preces de vigne.


In 1274 'Reconnaissances des tenures possedées par divers habitants de BOUGLON (BOURG) et des obligations dont ils étaient venus envers Le Roi d’Angleterre. Terre et vinee PETRI FFORCED apud BOGLONIUM vetus et apud RASSAC (modern Langon)? ?Homme franc du Roi, Raimundus de La FFOSSA, junior, prevoté de Barsac, duodecim sazones terre et viginti regas vinee'
'Raimundus de LAFFOZA, filius Raimundi de LAFFOZA Senior - octo sazones terre et vinnee' (referred to also as de LAFFORE le Vieux!)
'Procuratores ARNALDI de FFORCI de Brevas, fratium PETRUS et Raimunds' both of Barsac, south of Langon.


1275 ARNALD & WILLELM de LAFOSSIE were wine merchants in London. (Source: 0. GAUBAN, History de La Reole)


1298 a whole family were wine growers in LANDERON and paid taxes VIDAL, WILHEM, RAMOND, PIERRE, HELIE, PEY, BERNARD, GALCEM.


1310 Barsac taxes were paid by Williams, Raymond, Pierres of the parishes DILACI, LASSATO, GUCHES, CABANACO, GRESINHACO D ‘ORNON.


1360-71 Guilhem de LAFOT/LAFFOT and GUILNEM FORTHON were Prevosts of UYAC/ ILHAC in Barsac.
1370 The Bordeaux Inventaire-Sommaire noted ‘quatre VIGNES DISTINCTES au FORC en GRAVES’ (the wine growing area due south of Bordeaux).




1367 ARNALDUS de FORTS, et GUILHELMUS ac PETRUS, ne potes (nephews) sui debent pro decima quam habent apud CORN et PENALDON v.s. Solvit in VINO" Petrus was a clericus or magistrate: the area was AVENSAN, 29 km north of Bordeaux.


ARNALD FORTHON demenvant à la Rousselle ne peut payer le cens (quit-rent) qu’il devait pour FARGUES et BONETON faits de ces pavoisses furent détruits par Les Francais et qu’il perdit meme les vaisseaux vinaires qu’il avait apportés pour y mettre ses recolts (cens de LORMONT et de QUINSAC d’Ambares): The wine grower whose winemaking casks and vats had been looted by the marauding French troops. The capital letters of L and F (Les Francis) were in the original text to emphasise the indignation. Modern Bonnetan is 15 km east of Bordeaux: FARGUES St HILAIRE is the neighbouring commune - both in the Entre-deux-Mers area.


1414 ARNALD FORT was in charge of the Commissary of Bordeaux and JURAT ELECTEUR for the village of LAFOR/LAFOSSA. "Terre vinee et oblie Guillelmi de LA FOZIA & MARIE de Sancti QUINTINO (his wife) feodum de La SERGA" (Lassegue is in St-Emilion).
"Terre et vines WILLELMI de LAFOSSA et suorum parciariorum"

From 1199 King John delivered a Charter to the commune of Saint-Emilion which was administered by an elected JURADE of JURATS or council which exercised authority over wine production and controlled the amount, the transport and the storage of the wine. They also agreed the date of the vintage each year. The Jurade ensured that the quality should be maintained and issued certificates guaranteeing the authenticity of the wine. The official seal was stamped on casks. Even now in St Emilion the jurats in scarlet robes and white bonnets proclaim from the top of the "Tour du Roy" the Proclamation of the Vintage, the Judgement of the New Wine and the "Popinjay Game" according to the season of the year.

At one time or another the Delaforces owned and cultivated wine vineyards in LISTRAC/MEDOC; Cotes de BOURG and BLAYE; Entre-deux-Mers; Barsac and St Emilion.

Their names linger on. There are chateau called TERRESFORT de FORTISSAN, LA FOSSE and LAFUS: communes called FOURS, LAFOSSE, St Savin-LAFOSSE; 'CVUS' called FORTIN, Clos du FOURCAS, FOURCAS-DUPRÉ, FOURCAS-HOSTEIN, FOURCAS-LOUBANEY; proprietors called FAUSSE, FORTIN(Y) FOSSES and LAFOSSE.

Sources used were the Archives Historiques of Bordeaux: THABUS-CUSSAC L’administration Anglaise en Gascoigne: local histories of towns around Bordeaux i.e. BOURG, BAZAS. The Department of the Girondes Inventaire-Sommaires were particularly helpful.

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Contact: Ken Baldry for more information, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 but best to e-mail him
©1980-2004 Patrick Delaforce. All rights reserved Last revised 24/8/2004