Wine's Link With Religion
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The First Vineyard
Wine Regions Of The Ancient Mediterranean
Monks And Merchants
The Rise Of The Connoisseur
The Vine Plagues
The 20th Century
The Quest For Authenticity
The Discovery Of Control

It was in the Midi in the 1860s that the most devastating of vine plagues first appeared. Phylloxera is a tiny insect, a pin-prick in size, which can kill vines by feeding on their roots. It was introduced, by accident, from North America when steamers began to make ocean voyages so swift that the pest could survive the crossing on imported plants. It spread across Europe: hardly a vine was spared. After four decades of destruction, the solution was found: vines grafted onto rootstocks of American vines are immune. Phylloxera was not the only problem: two diseases, oidium or powdery mildew, and downy mildew, affected Europe's vines in the same period.

In France, many phylloxera affected vineyards were never replanted. Few vineyards other than the most prestigious could by then compete with the mass-production of southern France and Italy.

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