The Jurade, an ancient tradition still very much alive
The Jurade de Saint-Émilion, the appellation's vinous brotherhood, can trace its roots back to a royal charter issued in 1199 by John Lackland, King of England.
This granted economic, political, and legal rights to the jurats, or aldermen, of Saint-Émilion. These local notables and magistrates were empowered with the town's general administration.
In exchange for these rights, England was granted the "privilège des Vins de Saint-Émilion". This meant that English merchants had priority over everyone else with regard to buying the wines of Saint-Émilion.
The Jurade's authority lasted until the French Revolution of 1789.
In 1948, several winegrowers resuscitated the Jurade in the form of a vinous brotherhood – a group of ambassadors to spread the good word about Saint-Émilion wines far and wide. They also swore to do their utmost to guarantee the authenticity and quality of Saint-Émilion wines.
The Jurade has done an excellent job of making Saint-Émilion better known. They also organise a Fête de Printemps (Spring Festival) in June and Ban des Vendanges (Vintage Festival) in September every year.
At these times, members of the Jurade parade through the town in their traditional crimson robes reminiscent of the all-powerful aldermen of centuries past.