In the 16th century, Domaine de l’Epinay belonged to the Espinozas, a wealthy Spanish trading family. After the French Revolution, a local civil conflict known as the Vendée Wars resulted in the burning and destruction of many buildings and archives in and around Nantes, leaving few records. “But, we know that the culture of the vine already existed,” note Cyrille and Sylvain. “It started at the end of the 17th century, thanks to monks from Burgundy. They brought with them their grapes—especially the melon de bourgogne.” The Pays Nantais had, in fact, been a red wine region until the lethal winter of 1709. Replanting was to prolific white varieties; high-yielding melon de bourgogne, in particular, satisfied Dutch traders’ appetites for neutral base wines for their brandies. The grape flourished in the cool, damp climate and granitic soils around these parts while the presence of small, navigable rivers, all connected to the Loire and the Atlantic, facilitated the wine’s transport and trade.
Fast forward to 1900, the year the Paquereau family took over the domaine. For much of the 20th century, they managed it as a typical mixed farm of dairy, cereals, and vines. In the early 1970s, Albert and Odile Paquereau narrowed their focus to wine while expanding their holdings from 5 to 30 hectares. In 2000, Cyrille, their elder son, returned to the estate from a range of apprenticeships and trainings, and in 2006, younger son Sylvain followed, at which point the brothers took over from their parents. In 2011, Cyrille and Sylvain began the conversion to organic farming, starting with the Clisson cru holdings. Today, the domaine stretches to 52 hectares, nearly half of which are devoted to melon.