The phylloxera crisis

HISTORY OF COGNAC   

End of the 19th century, phylloxera destroys the majority of the vineyards

La crise du phylloxéraAround 1875 phylloxera appears in the Cognac region. Phylloxera is an insect of the hemiptera family and one of its species, Phylloxera Vastatrix, attacks grapevines and sucks the sap from their roots.

It would destroy the greater part of the vineyard (around 1895 there would be no more than 42,581 hectares left under vine, compared with the 280,000 ha in 1877).


Birth of the first interprofessional initiative in Cognac: The Viticulture Committee in 1888

This tragedy gave birth to the Viticulture Committee in 1888, which would then become the Station Viticole in 1892.

Reconstruction du vignobleIn 1887, a French delegation led by Pierre Viala, Professor at the Montpellier School of Agriculture, was sent to the United States in search of phylloxera-resistant grapevines.

The delegation’s aim was to bring back seedlings on which to graft French varieties , to benefit from the American grapevines’ resistance to phylloxera, while retaining the quality produced by French varieties.

The first attempts were catastrophic. The first rootstocks brought over could not withstand the chalky soil of the region. New rootstocks resistant to chlorosis had to be found.

It took many years of hard work and patience for the economy of the region to recover.