Some people consider the Ways of St James to have been the world’s very fi rst wine routes. In fact, as a drink that was essential to mankind (water was very often unsafe to drink) and sacred in the Christian faith, wine rapidly acquired considerable importance.
The planting of vineyards quite naturally developed right across the South-West, most notably thanks to the Benedictine and Cistercian monks, along the Ways of St James upon which Toulouse was a major stopping point – with its basilica of Saint-Sernin and the Hôtel-Dieu de Toulouse being listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Its river, the Garonne, and the Canal du Midi have been used for a long time to transport the wines of the South-West to the port of Bordeaux.
Due to this history and its geographical location, Toulouse provides the perfect showcase for the wines of the South-West. The wine bars, cellars and restaurants of Toulouse are veritable ambassadors of good living thanks to the gastronomy and the fi ne wines of the region.
Toulouse is the only large city in France that has been growing its own vines since 1976.
In the Domaine de Candie, 26 hectares are organically cultivated in front of the Thalès-Alenia satellite factory. The development of the urban area has pushed the city right out to the vineyards of Fronton (their unusual local grape variety, Négrette, surprises people with its fl avours of violet) or Gaillac(Tarn).
From the hillsides of Gascony to the wines of Cahors, the region boasts over 300 listed grape varieties, 14 protected geographical indications and 29 protected appellations of origin that are regrouped under the banner of the association “Interprofession des vins du Sud-Ouest” (IVSO). To distinguish themselves from the wines of Bordeaux or the Languedoc-Roussillon, the IVSO focuses on innovation.
The Domaine de Candie is set to become a site where visitors can discover a unique local heritage and will also serve as a laboratory for the 120 native grape varieties of a wine-growing region stretching from the Basque Country to the Aveyron.