am merry! I am merry! Long live the wine and Arts!...
suis gai ! je suis gai ! Vive le vin et l'Art !...
Nelligan (La romance du vin -1899)
of a tradition several times centenary
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.
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.
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
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.
generation : Joseph Juillineau-Gélineau got married to Madeleine Morrison
in St-Eutrope de Saintes in 1623. The wine tradition remains...
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.
generation : Jean Gélina marries Francoise de Charmenil in 1667. The
wine tradition is temporarily stopped and passes a generation.
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
: 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
You were born from a proud race, blessed be your vineyard, O! Quebecer...