The origins of the vine

The origins of the vines are thought to go back to almost 60 million years and especially to the age of Paleocene as inferred from fossil leaves found in the sediments of that era, near Sézanne in Champagne.

The vine of the genus vitis belongs to the family Vitaceae. This family of dicotyledon plants consists mainly of climbing plants or shrubs including also, among others, the Virginia creeper.

Shortly after its appearance, the genus vitis divided into two distinct sub-genera: vitis ludwigii and vitis euvitis. The first developed into most of the American species, whereas the second is at the origin of about sixty species spread out all over the globe on the American, European and Asian continents. This sub-genus gave birth to the European species vitis vinifera that is at the origin of almost all species of grapevines for eating or wine making.

The species vitis vinifera evolved into two sub-species; the first of them, vitis vinifera sylvestris, has remained wild. It is still possible to find it at edges of woods, or climbing trees, especially in the south of France or in Champagne for example. The second sub-species, vitis vinifera sativa, evolved into most of the known varieties according to its domestication by Man over the last ten million years.