Since 1238: The oldest wine estate in the Luberon
Château de Mille is the oldest wine estate in the Luberon, first documented in the Avignon archives in 1238. There is also archeological evidence for an even longer history of agriculture and wine production. Recently, experts have identified carved stone wine-making basins which could date from the Bronze Age.
Mille was called Villa Milonum in the late Antiquity. The Romans made wine here as in the rest of Apta Julia, an important settlement on the Via Domitia. Emperor Hadrian’s horse Borysthene, killed on a boar hunt, is buried a mile away. A fragment of his gravestone, on which Hadrian had a moving poem carved, can be seen at the Musée Lapidaire in Avignon. Winegrowing prospered through the Middle Ages up to the end of the 19th century and the phylloxera disaster. It plays a vital role in today’s local economy.
Château de Mille was first mentioned in the Avignon archives in 1238. It was a summer residence of the popes, including Clement VI, whose portrait hangs in the caveau. The Mille archives, starting with a 15th century parchment, offer clues to the estate’s life and to the local history over the centuries. They are now on view in a permanent exhibition above the tasting room.
In 1256, the Seigneur Milon paid homage to the Bishop of Apt. Mille was spared the devastation of the 16th century Religious Wars and the Revolution in the 1790s. It has remained occupied and farmed since the 13th century.
Built upon and within the rock, this medieval jewel was expanded in the 16th century with a pretty Renaissance aisle, fountains and gardens, then in the 18th century with a south-facing bastide. The château boasts several features carved in the rock : troglodyte dwellings; a rare, large water pond (used to support a substantial farming activity); an underground vaulted cellar ; a justice bench and an exceptional suspended monolithic staircase*. In close proximity, archeologists have identified signs of early human habitation on what was probably a Celtic Oppidum. Historians are interested in pursuing further investigations on this unique site : Mille’s exciting story keeps unfolding!