Wine production brotherhoods Brotherhoods of the vine
Our region, rich in wine and diverse products, has initiated the birth of many Bacchic, gourmet, historical and Epicurean brotherhoods. From the Pyrenees to the Rhône, from the Cévennes to the Mediterranean, more than 80 different brotherhoods are alive and kicking, promoting French culture from the South and brandishing the Languedoc cross.
Some of these brotherhoods date back several years. Did you know, for example, that back in 1952, the “Friends of the Wine“ brotherhood used to meet up in a family inn near Montpellier to taste the better wines? Or that “The Order of the Strict Observance Beverage” is one of the oldest brotherhoods in the Gard county ?
Some brotherhoods represent typical local produce ("The Cassoulet Academy", "The Gruissan Eel", "Tiny Pasta from Pézénas", "The Macaronade from Sète", etc.), while others glorify tradition, history, pleasures of the table and conviviality ("Les Pastaïres et les Tastaïres", "La Rabouillère et le Clapier", "La Belle Aude en Languedoc", "Les Chantegosiers du Roussillon à Tautavel", etc.).
Yet the majority are those representing wines, vintages and the wine-growing areas; of which more than twenty can be found in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Here are some examples: "Seigneurs des Corbières", "Les Compagnons du Minervois", "Les Capitouls de Limoux", "Saint-Chinian", "Le Consulat de Septimanie", "Les Torsades de Frontignan", "Les Costières de Nîmes", "Le Comté de Durban", etc.
Each of these brotherhoods has its own ritual, with its colourful attire, its insignia, its gonfalon (implying its “emblem”) and its diploma. They hold chapter each year and enthrone renowned personalities representing literature, the arts, politics, the economy, in addition to notable foreign visitors. They are very often implicated in local and regional events.
These brotherhoods bring forth the ancestral traditions of good living, the art of enjoying good food and drink! They represent "know-how to appreciate", “know-how to live together” and “know-how to communicate” with regard to the essential qualities of the aims or objects treated. They develop in man the need for intellect and spirituality in day-to-day actions by filling them with meaning. They defend good taste, the quality of food and wine, and the quality of life.
They inform and train fellow citizens in order to stimulate new demands for quality and authentic produce. The brotherhoods also portray a certain type of relationship between men, by symbolising rituals via mythological and cultural references (e.g. Bacchus, Dionysos and Noé, the brotherhood references of the wine).
Hence, we can say that they adopt a civilising role. But, above all, they want to be a communication tool between representatives of a production sector, whether a product or a tradition, and those of a public. Since 1992, all brotherhoods are grouped together in the Languedoc and Roussillon Brotherhood Academy.
You may find full details in the book written in French by C. Vitelli : Languedoc and Roussillon Brotherhoods