Before the development of transport and the arrival of exotic fruits, the only fresh fruit you would find on tables throughout the year was the Chasselas grape of Thomery!
The town of Thomery boasts a singular and exceptional architectural heritage: vine walls. Listed as historic monuments, the first walls designed for grape growing were built here in the sixteenth century to cultivate Golden Chasselas vines taken from the king’s climbing vine stocks.
This original growing method (climbing vines grown against walls) made it possible to produce very flavoursome grapes.
Initially very popular with Louis XV and his Court, the Thomery Chasselas first appeared on the tables of the European nobility before gradually becoming more widespread.
It experienced great growth with the development of a preservation technique involving harvesting grapes early, making the sale of fresh grapes possible throughout the year.
The vine shoots and grapes were preserved from October to May in small glass bottles containing water and a piece of coal, in grape storage rooms, protected from heat and light.
Cultivation in heated greenhouses made it possible to harvest the precious golden grapes as early as May.
For nearly a century, the Thomery Chasselas was the only fresh fruit available in winter, making it an exceptional luxury product. Each year, more than 1000 tons were shipped throughout France and as far as Russia, by river from the Port d’Effondré and, beginning in 1849, by train, which carried the goods to the Halles de Paris.
Several harsh winters, parasites and mildew wiped out almost 90% of production on the eve of the First World War. The development of transport, and competition in the form of grapes from Moissac and exotic fruits made popular thanks to the Colonial Exhibition of 1930, sounded the death knell of this adventure in viticulture. The last consignment of Chasselas grapes was shipped to Paris in 1970. Later, Thomery attempted to build on this recent legacy with the creation of detoxifying grape-based treatments (known as “ cures uvales ”). Today, this grape is only grown by private individuals.