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Cognac Phylloxera Crisis

23 November 2012 No Comment

One of the major Cognac crisis in the history of cognac was during 1870’s. A virus, phylloxera, attacked the roots of the vine which destroyed the entire plant. This virus spread fast and covered a wide range of the vineyards. The wine consumption and the land value plummeted drastically.

It is estimated that during that time a 247 acres of land was worth 7,000 French Francs, after the virus started destroying the vines it is said that the same 247 acres of land was worth only 600 French Francs.

French farmers and producers tried everything to get this virus under control by planting toads on the vine roots and some even by urinating on the vines. The virus was spreading fast and with it the France economy was going downhill. This is when Denison, Texas came to the rescue.

Pierre Viala, a French scientists traveled to Denison, Texas in 1888 where he found a long term cure to this devastating virus. Pierre Viala and an American scientist, Thomas Volney Munson worked on the problem for days in Denison and other regions in Texas. The soils of the Charente and Denison are very similar which made it easier to find the solution. Munson suggested that the only way to save the French vineyards was to use the vines from Texas as hosts for grafting. For his contribution T.V. Munson was awarded the highest award that could be given to a foreign national, the Chevalier du Merit Agricule.

100 years later, a Centennial Celebration was held in both Cognac and Denison and identical plaques were given to each city. In October of 1992, a delegation from Denison, Texas went to Cognac, France and the Sister City Relationship between two cities was established in a formal ceremony. And that is how a virus became the cause of a relationship between Denison, Texas and Cognac, France.

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