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Wine For Gaul

La Modrague de Giens wreck site
circa 60 B.C.
Cargo of about 7,000 amphorae of
Caecubian wine

To place the military procurement of wine in proper perspective within the framework of the Roman wine trade overall, we should note that during the civil war which pitted Julius Caesar and Pompey against one another in 49 B.C., there were at least eleven active legions in Gaul alone, and that the Romans reckoned to routinely maintain four legions in neighboring northern Spain, to discourage rebellion against their authority.

Let us remember that there was little native Gallic wine production at that time; most of the wine being supplied to those Roman legions was being shipped in from western Italy. To satisfy the needs of all those legions will have required the transfer of several hundred loads of amphorae every year, on large cargo ships like the one which sank at La Madrague de Giens, just twenty miles short of its presumed destination of Massilia (modern Marseille). This level of wine trafficking for the military most likely matched the independently organized flow of wine to the provincial civilian population.