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It is debatable whether the Greeks or Phoenicians first planted vines in the country we now know as France. Either way, wine-making along the Loire Valley was developed during the Gallo-Roman period.

Viticulture expanded under the later religious settlements and was firmly established during the medieval feudal system along both banks of the river centred at Sancerre and Pouilly.

Eventually the right bank became associated with white wine (Chasselas) production. The left bank was principally red (Gamay).

Innovations in transport helped wines to be sold much further afield. Firstly during the 17th century came the beginning of a sophisticated canal system. The railways arrived in the mid-19th century. It was at this time that the Chasselas variety was sent to Paris as table grapes.

The late 19th century saw the devastation of the Phylloxera pest. This was an aphid introduced from America which killed the vast majority of indigenous vines within ten years. The industry collapsed and many producers gave up wine-making permanently.

After this calamity, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Sauvignon blanc was first planted but grafted onto resistant rootstocks, a practice which continues to this day.

After the Great War (1914-18) pressure in the French wine industry to regulate quality led to the introduction of the 'Appellation Controllée' system. Sancerre (white) gained its appellation in 1936 and Pouilly Fumé the following year.

Red Sancerre (Pinot noir) waited until after the Second World War (1939-45) to reach appellation statu,s won in 1959. But this was also a time both of improvements in the local industry and better out-reach and promotion. As a consequence the wines of Sancerre and Poiully Fumé have gained in reputation and status both in France and across the world.

Since the 1980s New World inspired revolution wine-makers along the Loire have been quick to respond by introducing innovation in both viti- and vini-culture.

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