en 1

QR Vic-le-Comte – Bourg 9

The Wine Cellar
A rich history of wine-growing

Vic-le-Comte had five wine storehouses built to a similar design with identical vaults. It appears they were built at the same time by the same people. There are also many smaller vats and cellars. Wine cellars are enclosed spaces and essential to the wine-making process. They are where the entire wine-making process takes place, from the arrival of the harvest to bottling.

A remarkable building

Built in 1790, it covers an area of 200m2 on the ground floor. The interior space is divided into sections by the many pillars that support the cross vaults, giving the cellar its distinctive appearance. The farm building is in two parts:
an area where the harvest arrives and a number of processes are carried out, including pressing, fermentation, settling and blending;
the cellar, where the wines are stored and matured.
The wine cellar was part of the vast property of the Tixier de Brolac family, which extended from the rue de la Thioule to the boulevard de Beussat, including all of the current administrative buildings.

Saint Verny, the patron saint of winegrowers

The Sainte-Chapelle houses an 18th-century statue of Saint Verny, patron saint of winegrowers, known elsewhere as Vincent, Vernier, Garnier or Werner. The saint is wearing a tabard, cinched at the waist by a large belt, baggy breeches (the braye of Auvergne peasants) and gaiters. He wears a hat and is carrying several symbols: a bunch of grapes, a pruning knife, a messenger bag and a wine barrel (a bousset). He is accompanied by his dog.
His cult was introduced to Basse-Auvergne in the 17th century. The saint acts as an intercessor between man and God. People prayed to him for a good harvest, and a procession was held to call for his blessings. But if the harvest was mediocre, the ungrateful were punished mercilessly and the statue turned over as a sign of displeasure. In the neighbouring parish of Corent, the inhabitants retaliated by throwing it in the village fountain!
The Catholic hierarchy, particularly the bishops, distanced themselves from these popular practices and attempted to ban this type of devotion. Often unsuccessfully, because these were ancestral rites that the parishioners held dear.

Image captions:

  • Statue of Saint Verny in the Sainte-Chapelle

The winegrower’s house

One of the special features of the winegrower’s house is that it combines family, the harvest and working tools all under one roof. They were built to follow the topography of the village and the slope of the hillside, like in the district of La Roche. The lack of space meant that structures would be built on top of one another.
The vat would be on the ground floor, with a cellar underneath where the barrels would be kept, containing the year’s wines. This was accessible through a trap door and a stone staircase. The juice that came from fermenting the must in the vat would be transferred to the barrels by simple gravity.
The first floor, which is accessed by a stone staircase covered by a canopy, was the winegrower’s living quarters.
The attic or galetas was used as a drying room for garlic, onions, nuts and grapes. Winegrowers also stored fruit there. A dovecote is an important source of food as well as fertiliser.

Image captions:

  • Winegrower’s house in Vic-le-Comte

The « tonnes »

In Puy-de-Dôme, you can find a certain type of small stone or rammed-earth house located in vineyards or gardens. In Vic-le-Comte, the most common type is the « tonne », a quadrangular sandstone house with a tiled roof. Some of these structures date back to the 18th century but had somewhat limited uses, such as the storage of tools or sheltering from bad weather.

Image captions:

  • Tonnes in and around Vic-le-Comte

More information on www.tourism.mondarverne.com