The Earlier Trade with Gaul

Introduction

"Being inordinately fond of wine, they gulp down what the merchants bring them quite undiluted. They have a furious passion for drink and get altogether beyond themselves, becoming so drunk that they fall asleep or lose their wits." (Diodorus Siculus, History of the World V.2)

The story of wine in Gaul while it was a Roman province is a fascinating one of sharply fluctuating fortunes. It begins in 58 B.C., when Julius Caesar brought to heel all the Gallic tribes and established a frontier along the course of the Rhine that was to survive for more than four centuries thereafter. Veterans of this military campaign were rewarded with tracts of land near where they had served, or provided with homes in newly created cities (colonia), such as Lugdunum (Lyon), Noviodunum (Nyons), and Augusta Rauricurum (Augst), that were placed strategically astride the Rhine and Rhone rivers, to discourage any native rebellion.