December 1999 remains an historic date for Saint-Émilion! It was on this date that the vineyard and the 8 villages of the Jurisdiction of Saint-Émilion were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its "cultural landscape". A world first!
By the way, what does it exactly mean to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site ?
According to UNESCO, Saint-Émilion is "an outstanding example of an historic vineyard landscape that has survived intact". A particular vigilance is given to this exceptional "cultural landscape" so that it can be preserved and can continue.
This is why, since 1993, a Commission (composed of INAO members, representatives of the town council of the municipalities concerned, representatives of the Chamber of Agriculture and Winegrowers) is in charge of validating the plant occupation of a plot or the modification of the structure of a soil.
This inscription represents approximately 5000 hectares of vines spread over the eight villages of the Saint-Émilion Jurisdiction : Saint-Émilion, Saint-Laurent des Combes, Saint-Christophe des Bardes, Saint-Pey-d'Armens, Saint-Etienne de Lisse , Saint Sulpice of Faleyrens, Saint-Hippolyte and Vignonet.
The inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list continues to make the pride of the winegrowers who have both shaped and preserved the terroir. Nowadays it’s the winegrowers who enable millions of visitors to discover this cultural wealth ; as well as the Great Saint-Émilion Area Tourist Office, the Saint-Émilion Wine Council and the Association Jurisdiction of Saint-Émilion, a World Heritage Site.
Indeed, it is not only a remarkable natural heritage but also a considerable historical and architectural heritage with the medieval city of Saint-Émilion, its monolithic church, its underground quarries, its cobbled streets and its numerous religious monuments. In addition, the Jurisdiction of Saint-Émilion abounds with Romanesque churches, mills and dovecotes that contribute to the uncontested attraction of this territory.
Good to know:
Since July 2015, two other French vineyards have been listed by the UNESCO :
Careful : Alcohol abuse is dangerous for the health. Please drink responsibly.