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I am merry! I am merry! Long live the wine and Arts!...

Je suis gai ! je suis gai ! Vive le vin et l'Art !...

Émile Nelligan (La romance du vin -1899)

 

Genealogy of a tradition several times centenary

 

It probably is the Romans who planted the first vines in the area of Mediolanum Santonum, an ancient Roman city now called Saintes in the French Charente-Maritime, probably in the year 19 of our Era by Caius Julius Rufus.

In XIIe century a large vineyard was creates around the city of La Rochelle. The sea traffic thriving, these vineyards soon extended towards the interior of the country, in particular towards the region of Cognac.


To make sure that the long voyages at sea do not deteriorate the quality of their wines, the merchants, primarily English and Dutch, started to distil these wines. This Brandewijn will be the ancestor of the Brandy.


At the turn of the XVIIe century, the Cognaçais elaborated double distillation as a standard, allowing a concentrated and inalterable alcohol, Cognac, to travel under economic and sound conditions. This alcohol, stored in barrels of oak, would soon take the name of Cognac.


The region of Cognac was then mainly Protestant. The edict of Nantes guaranteed at that time ' the freedom of conscience, a certain freedom of worship and places of sûreté'. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes on October 17, 1685 per Louis XIV, involved many departures of Protestant families towards England, Ireland or Holland where they were established. Certain families, like that of my ancestors, chose La Nouvelle-France...

 

Thirteenth generation : Olivier Juillineau marries Louyse Roger in St-Eutrope de Saintes, France, in 1584. Within the hart of the Saintonge river, in Charente-Maritime, country of the Roman art and of the liquor Pineau de Charentes, Olivier Juillineau would have cultivated the vine and made his wine and brandy of the Cognac country; the famous Cognac.

Twelfth generation : Joseph Juillineau-Gélineau got married to Madeleine Morrison in St-Eutrope de Saintes in 1623. The wine tradition remains...

Eleventh generation : Étienne Gélineau, son of Joseph Juillineau-Gélineau, takes for bride Huguette Robert in Saintes in 1645. He hardly takes care of the small family vineyard, but still makes his own wine.


Tenth generation : Jean Gélina marries Francoise de Charmenil in 1667. The wine tradition is temporarily stopped and passes a generation.


Ninth generation : Departure from La Rochelle for La Nouvelle-France. Jean-Baptiste Gélinas AKA Bellemare, probably because he established his family very close to a splendid pond with ducks, marries Jeanne Boissonneau AKA Saint-Onge in l'Ile d'Orleans, ' island of Bacchus', in November 1700. For Jean-Baptiste, it is the return to vine growing. Noticing that the vines where growing 'naturally' on the Iland, Jean-Baptiste is devoting some of his time to the culture of the vine to possibly provide the wine necessary for the Eucharist and for the tavern.


Eighth generation : Pierre Bellemare marries Angélique V Lacerte in 1734, two hundred years after the discovery of the New World by Jacques Cartier, in Yamachiche in the Mauricie region. He keeps the surname Bellemare, to differ from his two other brothers; one will keep the name Gélinas, a different spelling of the orginal family name Juillineau, the other brother running almost as fast as a horse will take the patronym of Lacourse. Perhaps did they change their name because they fled from the law, or the catholic religion? ... What I report to you is the version that my father has told me, that he held himself from his father, who had heard it told by his grandfather, and his great-grandfather... None the less it is Pierre ' Gélinas' Bellemare who brings with him some stocks of vine from l'Ile d'Orleans which will survive sparely in the family garden while awaiting for that the wine tradition inherited from the ancestors of the Charente-Maritime to continue.

Seventh Generation : Joseph Bellemare marries in first and last wedding Agathe Blais in Yamachiche in 1765. One wonders why the English burned the family farm and the crops of my ancestors in 1760, the policy of the burned ground, since they had surrender almost peacefully... Several of my ancestors had taken refuge in wood with the allies Amerindian, after firing a shot or two with the musket on some English lost in the forest, while waiting for the storm to pass. The governor of It's majesty imposes the national beverage of the conqueror: the beer... so that the new immigrants from the United Kingdom have something good to drink. ' O! Where were the stocks, the vine shoots ravaged of my ancestors?', History does not say. But there is an extremely good chance that they budded the year following the great disturbance... the vine, like the French culture well implanted in Quebec, it's hard to kill!


Sixth generation : Joseph Bellemare marries Elisabeth Paquin in Maskinongé in February 1808 and receives, as a gift of wedding, around fifty shoots of vines with blue grape, the leg of his father. He joins again with the ancestor's tradition and intoxicates the whole family the evenings of celebration with his heavy red wine which stains... Sometimes, it is a good practice to put a little water in ones wine!

Fifth generation : Moyse Bellemare, after escaping a near miss in 1838 when the shot of English army had missed by little its patriotic private parts, takes for wife Marie Vermette in February 1846. No mention of vine growing but, as the line continues, we can only thank the English for sparing Moyse's grapes.

 

Fourth generation : Noé Bellemare, son of Moyse Bellemare, marries Clémentine Villeneuve (it is the sister of the Villeneuve which will be the ancestor of our famous Formula One pilots; Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve...) in St-Justin in 1884. At the time of the escape from the reception, after a well sprinkled Wedding, Noah is blue with fear when Clémentine Villeneuve takes the reins from him because he drank too much, because he abused of the good wine, and so that they could arrive a little more quickly at destination; the bridal room. She negotiates the curve on top of the road le Bois Blanc on a dime, crosses the creek's bridge on two wheels, and the wedding night is almost compromised because Noé had the fear of its life. ' Jesus' she drives like crazy that woman... ' Will he say he to a neighbour later. In its garden in St-Justin, county of Maskinongé, some vines valiantly fight bad grasses while waiting for their hour of glory.

Third generation : Joseph (gros pit) Bellemare takes forbride Florida Doucette in 1909 in St-Justin. He brings with him some shoots of vine, heritage of the ancestors, just as the few kilos of buckwheat seeds for pancakes... Which will make famous the county a few decades later.

Second generation : Henri-Paul Bellemare my dad, it's him the sculptor, marries Carmen Clermont in 1954 in Montreal, on the Plateau Mont-Royal. He makes wine on the occasion, with his brother-in-law Yvon, in the family cellar. Mom is very annoyed when he returns all tipsy from the basement after having filtered some demi-jeanne to decant the heavy red wine that stains. It was necessary that somebody did the job and tasted the wine to see whether it were good... When the wine is drawn, it should be drunk!


The present generation : Alain Bellemare, it's me, marries Rosy (Rosaria) Gargagliano in December 1979. With his father-in-law Giuseppe, who had been born on a farm where he cultivated olive-trees and vines, he rejoins again with the ancestral tradition and improves his technique and his talents of wine maker. After many tests in various areas of Quebec, always searching for the best climatic conditions for his stocks, he settles with his family in Rigaud where he plants several thousand of vines, and founds La Romance du Vin Vignoble in 1999. In spring 2004, he joins again with his ancestors which made wines from La Charente-Maritime and plants noble types of vines; Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. In the autumn of 2006, after a string of bounces and agri-control hardships, he will be ready to sell his first bottles of wine of Nouvelle-France. More than four hundred years ran out since St-Eutrope de Saintes... But the tradition was kept alive... Come on an taste it if you can!


You were born from a proud race, blessed be your vineyard, O! Quebecer...


Home     •  Our Vineyard •  Genealogy •   Opening hours     •  Our Wines •  Wines Tasting •   Find us
Version française •  Growing vines in Quebec   •   Type of vines   •   The Cycle of the vine •  Photos •  Contact-us  •  Bergerie sur le Lac