Algeria: History

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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In the late 1950s, France depended heavily on Algerian wine to provide its everyday blended red (and some smarter wines) with strength, colour, and concentration—all of them attributes entirely lacking in the aramon then grown so prolifically in the languedoc. Together with neighbouring morocco and tunisia, Algeria accounted for two-thirds of international wine trade in the 1950s.

Although vine-growing was practised in pre-colonial Algeria, and indeed flourished in classical times, it was the French phylloxera crisis of the 1870s that was to convert the agriculture of this North African colony to vineyards (although there had been a certain influx of wine-growers from Baden in the mid 19th century—see german history). In the late 19th century, Algeria was so successfully developed as the prime alternative source for France’s voracious wine drinkers that Algeria’s total viticultural area grew from 16,688 ha/41,240 acres in 1872 to 110,042 ha/271,910 acres in 1890, largely thanks to settlers whose own European vineyards had been devastated by phylloxera, which eventually reached Algeria.