Vast swathes of vineyard were destroyed by the deadly phylloxera bug in the late 1800s, affecting most European regions.
It was actually a botanist from Languedoc, Jules Emile Planchot, who is credited with fighting back against phylloxera after helping to discover that the American rootstock was resistant to the disease.
1907 and the rise of militant winemakers
Languedoc has always been a hotbed of political protest and it is considered the birthplace of French socialism.
In 1907, thousands of winemakers poured into the streets of the region’s major cities to complain at cheap wine imports, mainly from from North Africa, that they deemed illegal – in part because of the added sugar in the wines.
French troops were sent in to control the situation, but shots were fired and six people died. There was another death in 1976 during more winemaker protests in the region.
Languedoc is home to the Comité d’Action Viticole – or more recently, the Comité Régionale d’Action Viticole.
Known as CRAV, bands of member producers have intermittently attacked foreign wine lorries, storage areas and government buildings in the area.
21st century and beyond
Today, the face of Languedoc-Roussillon wine has drastically changed. More commercially viable grape varieties have been planted, and names such as St Chinian, Faugères, Corbières, Pic St Loup and Terrasses du Larzac are increasingly known among sommeliers and wine lovers – and the wines are often tipped as good value bets on restaurant lists.
Tourism has also surged. Long sandy beaches and striking scenery complement the region’s mix of old and new in its cities, such as regional capital Montpellier and also Nimes, Narbonne, Carcassonne and Perpignan.