Monks and Wine

  • England, 1979 (Mitchell Beazley, hardback and paperback)
  • USA, 1979 (Crown)
  • Translation, 1982, French (Pygmalion)


A study of an important area of wine history that is generally neglected. For well over a thousand years all the biggest and best vineyards were cultivated by monks, who saved viticulture when barbarian invasions destroyed the Roman Empire. Although the monasteries lost most of their vineyards in the revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, monks are still active and often distinguished wine-makers in many parts of the world. They have a natural interest in the wine needed for the Mass, but at its best their wine-making went far beyond th requirements of small communities, in quality and quantity. Monastic wines include such great burgundies and Chambertin and Clos de Vougeot, Bordeaux wines such as Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion and Chateau Carbonnieux, and German wines such as Johannisberger and Hattenheimer. The book describes in a separate chapter the enormous contribution monks have made to liqueurs and eaux-de-vie – the first distiller of Scotch whisky known by name was a friar.

Buy on Amazon

Reviews of: Monks and Wine

  • A joyous and delightful book, deeply researched and packed with out of the way knowledge.

    Daily Telegraph
  • This well-written and charming description of the connexion between the religious orders and the grape … is an oasis among dull, technical wine books.

    The Times