For over 15 centuries, viticulture was an essential activity of our region. Towards the end of the 19th century a series of events saw this change and the long standing relationship between the population and its environment would see the vineyards replaced by other agricultural activities
It wasn't until the second half of the 20th century that the population would see a renewal of viticultural activities in the Yonne region.
The first vineyards in Burgundy and in the Yonne region date from the roman colonisation. The first written traces referring to the vineyards date from 312AD recounting the visit of the Emperor Constantine to Autun.
The name of Irancy appears for the first time is 861AD where it is mentioned in a legal act where a parcel of vines named 'Vaupaisseau' changes ownership. (This is the vineyard known as 'Vaupessiot today)
A period of rapid development
In a very short space of time the religous orders in the region started to play an important role in wine production. The monks of the Abbaye de Citeaux in the Côte d'Or, at Pontigny in the Chablisien, at Reigny (Vermenton) and the parish of Saint-Germain (Auxerre) in the vineyards of the Auxerrois.
Wine had a dual role in the life of the religous orders: indispensable in religous ceremonies and rites, and a valuable source of income.
Commerce was aided by the presence of important roman roads and access to the river Yonne. The 'Voie romaine #1', the 'Voie Agrippa' and the river allowing wines, along with stone and wood from the region, to be transported to Paris, Rouen and even as far as England. The reputation of the wines from Auxerre were firmly established during the middle-ages at the court of Henri IV, François Ier and Louis XIII.
Demand increased during the period from the 17th centruy to the french revolution due to the an exodus from the countryside towards large cities, the developing infrastructure of roads and the beginnings of industrialisation. The demand saw an icrease in production but with grape varietals of lower quality. At this time production in the Yonne region reached its height at around 50 000 hectares of planted vineyards (against around 6 000 today)
A partir de la seconde moitié du XVème siècle, apparaît une modification de l'organisation et des conditions de production. Plusieurs fléaux apparaissent, l'oïdium et le pourridié en 1854 et 1857, le mildiou en 1882 ainsi que plusieurs années consécutives de gel. C'est surtout le phylloxéra qui va dévaster le vignoble entre 1886 et 1897.
Puis les guerres de 1870 et de 1914-18 éloignent temporairement ou définitivement les hommes de nos campagnes, ce qui entraîne le développement d'autres cultures, en particulier la cerise et les céréales grâce aux débuts timides d'une lente mécanisation.