2000 years of history !
In Gallo-Roman times, Fronton stood on the road that linked Toulouse to Cahors. It is said that the vineyards were first planted at this time.
In 1122, certain feudal lords of the region ceded a vast area of land to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, so that a town could be founded there.
In the16th and 17th C., Catholic Fronton found itself caught in the conflicts between Toulouse, also Catholic, and Montauban, a Protestant stronghold.
The town, besieged and pillaged by the Protestants in 1567, had to house the Royal troops during the siege of Montauban in 1621, and to repulse its final defence in November 1628.
Throughout its history, Fronton has been host to famous people. In 1119, on his way from Toulouse to Montauban, Pope Calixtus II consecrated the church. In 1632, Louis XII stayed here. He went to the All Saints’ Mass and laid his hands on 400 people suffering from scrofula (a skin disease), who were hoping his touch would miraculously cure them.
And, in the early 20th C., at n° 41 rue Bersac, the writer Jules Ielh, the lover of Marguerite Audoux, used to enjoy visits from his friends the novelists André Gide and Alain Fournier.
Fronton and its vineyards
The act of donation of the town to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1122 makes the first known mention of the presence of vineyards here.
It is thought that the Négrette grape, which nowadays gives the vineyard its specific character, was brought back from Cyprus by the Knights of the Order when they returned from the Crusades.
However, until the 17thC., the agricultural landscape was dominated by the cultivation of cereals : vines were present, but only covered a fairly limited area.
It was only in the 18thC. that the vineyards really developed, attaining their maximum extent in the 19thC. When the protectionism that favoured the wines of the Gironde came to an end, the wines of Fronton could be exported via Bordeaux. “Gabarres” (flat-bottomed cargo boats) carried the wine westwards down the Tarn from Villemur. In the 19thC., three quarters of the Fronton area’s farm land was planted with vines.
The vineyard was hit by two major crises: phylloxera (late 19thC.) and overproduction in 1907. The later 20thC. brought recognition for the wine, and the Fronton Vineyard was awarded the coveted AOC status in 1975 (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, nowadays Appellation d’Origine Protégée.)