History & Tradition

Jurançon, one of the first AOC* labels


The earliest known viticultural transaction in the region dates from 988, in Lucq-de-Bearn at the abbey of Saint-Vincent. The story of Jurancon wine, however, properly begins with Henry II of Navarre, also known as Henry of Albret, who bought a vineyard in Jurancon in 1552, the hillsides at that time being already covered with Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng varieties. He is said to have moistened the lips of the newborn future king of France with Jurancon wine, at his baptism. 

And thanks to King Henri IV, a very colourful and passionate man who loved his home region, Jurancon became the wine used in the ceremonies of the house of France. Like other wines, it was transported far and wide on the waterways, and we can imagine that the journey to Bayonne by the sometimes stormy waters of the Gave de Pau would have been a risky venture. Though very popular in Northern Europe, Jurancon wine "disappeared" with the arrival in the region of the phylloxera vine plague in 1924, to become nothing more than a sacramental wine for the rest of the early twentieth century. 

It was the Cave de Producteurs de Gan and some owners, who, year after year, gradually brought the prestige back to the name of Jurancon. Through a policy of strict selection both in the vineyard and at the harvest receiving dock, and through a perfect balance between the application of traditional wine-making methods and the use of modern equipment, and thanks to the pooling of financial, technical and human resources, the Cave de Producteurs de Jurançon created a dynamic quality and became the standard bearer of this small mountain vineyard with a prestigious past. 


The Royal Viguerie

The Order of the Royal Viguerie of Jurancon guarantees the quality and authenticity of Jurancon wines, and perpetuates the Order of the Jurats, aldermen who were mandated to ensure proper execution of the orders of Jeanne d'Albret.. 

Its History

With the discovery of mosaics at the Abbey of Sorde, at the ancient thermal baths of Oly Bridge, at the Roman villa in Taron, it is possible to trace the establishment of the first Béarnais vineyards to the era of the Gallo-roman civilization. The establishment and the authority of the great religious orders of the tenth and eleventh centuries encouraged the birth of the great wine names through improved farming methods. The oldest religious charter yet found belongs to the Abbey of St-Pee-de-Bigorre, founded around the year one thousand by Sancho, Prince and Duke of Gascony. From the fourteenth century, the vineyards were the glory of the Jurancon hills, but it was not until the sixteenth century, under the impetus of Henry II of Albret and Margaret of Navarre, that the wine would grow to the height of its fame, and it is in 1553 that the name definitively enters into the history of France through the Baptism of the future King Henri IV. On December 12 of that year, Henry II rubbed a clove of garlic on the lips of the newborn Henry III of Navarre, and moistened them with a drop of Jurancon. With the following words Henry II embroidered history with threads of Jurancon gold:

"Love smiles seeing how, instead of at milk, he suckles at the Jurancon nouveau."

The wine bestowed, we are assured, diplomatic genius upon the future king of France, as well as a great love for the people upon the most popular King, and a love of conquest upon a ladies' man and an old charmer.

Baptism by Jurancon, introduced by Henry of Albret, became a royal tradition. During the Restoration, September 29, 1820, the Duchess of Berry gave birth to a prince, the Duke of Bordeaux. And so it was that during a luxurious ceremony, in a beautiful room at the Tuileries, Louis XVIII made his newborn drink some Jurancon, following the example of his ancestor. We find, much more recently, the same high ceremony at the christening of the first son of the Count and Countess of Clermont, born February 7, 1961; the eldest son of the Count of Paris, in 1933; the twin sons of the Count and Countess of Paris, in Rabat, in 1941.

The Royale Viguerie

A royal wine had to have a guard and a court to defend its virtues and sing its praises, but as well as this the Royal Viguerie of Jurancon would have as its mission to ensure compliance with the traditions of Jurancon quality and maintain its prestige worldwide. The Brotherhood of the Royal Viguerie of Jurancon was created in 1953 to mark the 4th centenary of the birth of Henri IV by the union of wine producers who were operating under the designation JURANÇON. The brotherhood's activities are chaired by the Grand Viguier, assisted by his Council of the Order, consisting of fifteen members. The Viguerie is supported in its work by senators and various regional personalities directly attached to the Jurancon cause. Dignitaries foreign to the region may be conferred the responsibility of ambassador in their own province, following representation by two sponsors. The insignia of the Brotherhood consists of a sash, of different color depending on the  rade, from which hangs a tastevin (a small cup for tasting wine) engraved with the arms of the Béarn province and the monogram of Henry IV. Members of the Council are obliged to wear the viguier's robes, dark green with black siding (the colours of the coat of arms of Gaston Phoebus and Marguerite de Navarre), and a red embossed collar (Henry IV). The head-wear is the traditional Béarnais beret jauntily tipped towards the shoulder. Wearing the robes is optional for members of the viguerie, but members of the Council are obliged to wear them.

Credit Agricole Bank lends its support to the Royal Viguerie of Jurançon

On 23 December 2009, Crédit Agricole handed over a check to support the Royal Viguerie of Jurancon, helping it to welcome customers increasingly interested in local traditions, and revitalizing its role in local heritage. The Cave de Gan-Jurançon regularly encourages cultural activities by exposing Gallo-Roman mosaics as well as old tools recently discovered, and allows the Royal Viguerie to promote such exhibitions by developing visits and actively participating in certain events (such as major pilgrimages to Lourdes).