From the Middle Ages to today...
From the Jacobin Brothers to the JEAN and JOINAUD families
Almost seven centuries spent celebrating the generosity of a great terroir, of wine, and relentlessly perpetuating the tradition of the Classified Growths of Saint-Émilion.
Couvent des Jacobins was established on top of one of the highest points of Saint-Émilion, following a land bequest in 1389 to the Dominican brotherhood, whose members were known as « Jacobin Brothers ». Dominican brothers in the region were also offering shelter to Christian pilgrims making the Way of Saint-James through France and down to Spain. So back then, the Couvent des Jacobins was both a place of worship, but also a stop and a refuge for visitors.
For almost four centuries, the monks were also growing vines and making wine, taking advantage of a well-exposed vineyard located immediately outside the city moats. Back in the days, Couvent des Jacobins already exported its wines, in particular to the royal courts of England and France. And over that period, the Jurade - a centuries-old group of vine growers and amateurs in Saint-Émilion, was already recognizing the wines of Couvent des Jacobins as among the most representative of the area.
The Dominican brotherhood was dissolved shortly before the French Revolution and the monks left the Couvent des Jacobins around 1780. The Couvent was confiscated at the French Revolution and then sold as a national estate ("bien national").
Between 1790 and the beginning of the 20th century, only two families, GUADET and VAUTHIER, owned Couvent des Jacobins.
In 1902, Jean JEAN, also known as « gentil Jean » (the kind Jean) purchased Couvent des Jacobins for 10,000 French gold francs. He invested heavily to restore the vineyard and the Couvent, a task that his descendants have relentlessly pursued. In 1926, Jean JEAN donated Couvent des Jacobins to his daughter, Berthe JEAN, who married Noël JOINAUD. Together, they continued to restore the estate, keeping in mind his last will that said : "Couvent never belongs, it is entrusted. If you respect yourselves, you will entrust it to the next generation in a better state than in which it has been given to you..."
Berthe JEAN and her husband continued making changes and additions to the estate over the following three decade. They refurbished and enlarged the cement cellar between 1957 and 1965, adding modern equipment, pumps, pressing, and harvest sorting devices. They also transformed the vineyard by replanting old plots and acquiring new ones, including on the limestone plateau of Saint-Émilion.
In 1969, the national syndicate INAO awarded Couvent des Jacobins the rank of Grand Cru Classé of Saint-Émilion, recognizing the consistency of the wines and the family efforts to preserve this remarkable site.
Rose-Noëlle BORDE, the daughter of Noël JOINAUD, and her husband Alain BORDE then took over the estate. They rehabilitated the former bakery of the monks and part of the underground cellars. They also constructed the cloister, restored the former gardens of the monks, and renovated the East part of the underground cellar in 1986 to allow gravity-based bottling.
In 2008, Xavier JEAN, the great-great-grand son of Jean JEAN, started its involvement in Couvent des Jacobins, with the assistance of Denis POMARÈDE, the estate manager, who joined Couvent des Jacobins in 1996. Six permanent staff with more than 15 years of "maison" complete the team : Karim, Alexandre, Chantal, Élodie, Bruno, and Jean-Luc. We often wonder what the Jacobin Brothers would say if they saw the energy and the liveliness of Couvent des Jacobins, almost 700 years after their arrival!