La Jurade de Saint-Emilion: a tradition looking to the future.

One of the oldest wine brotherhoods in the world finds its raison d'être at the heart of more than 2000 years of history between men and the vine: the Jurade of Saint-Emilion.

The revival of a historical tradition

The origins

The Jurade dates back more than 800 years ago, in 1199, when Aquitaine was attached to the crown of England, following the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with Henry II. Due to its strategic place on the road to Saint Jacques de Compostela and its significant wine-growing economy, Saint-Emilion, which aspired to obtain greater autonomy, obtained the special status of Jurisdiction conferred by Jean sans Terre (son of Aliénor d'Aquitaine) during the signing of the Charter of Falaise. The latter then delegated political, economic and judicial powers to notables and magistrates for the management and general administration of the city.


Saint-Emilion obtained administrative and legal freedom, the administration of which was then entrusted to the jurats. In exchange for this new status, the jurisdiction developed its trade with England and in particular from the port of Libourne where the wine was sent by boat to Bordeaux then by the estuary and along the Atlantic towards the north. 


Over the centuries, the deliberations and decisions taken by this institution have mainly concerned wine and its production. Indeed, Jurade therefore becomes the vigilant guardian of the very high quality of Saint-Émilion wines, closely monitoring production and what would be akin to specifications ahead of time and even sets the date of harvest grapes.



This prestigious brotherhood, dissolved under the French Revolution and then forgotten, was dusted off in the middle of the 20th century by the Saint-Emilion Wine and Agricultural Union. Indeed, in 1948, the latter decided to delve back into the history books of the city of Saint-Emilion and to revive the Jurade on September 13 in order to give new impetus to viticulture.


“Sigillum Com Si Emiliani” is the Latin inscription which appears on the seal of Jurade. It means “the seal of the commune of Saint-Émilion”. It is important to remember that in the Middle Ages, the word “commune” had a completely different meaning than today: it meant that the bourgeois of Saint-Émilion could take an oath. A long history to which the red dress of the Jurats and the epitoge of the inductees bear witness.


Throughout its history, the Jurade has also been a symbol of solidarity in the face of adversity. Thus, in 1884, during the phylloxera crisis which caused considerable damage in the main wine-growing regions of Europe, the first French wine union was created in Saint-Emilion in order to pool efforts and research to eradicate this sanitary catastrophe.


Ambassadors who promote Saint-Emilion

The jurade today brings together 140 jurats winegrowers, merchants or personalities who work for the reputation of Saint-Emilion throughout the world and who perpetuate the values of sharing, discovery, transmission and tradition.

Au centre, Jean-Luc Sylvain en habit de Jurat lors d’une cérémonie organisée par la chancellerie de Singapour, accompagné de deux autres jurats et de Mme Alice LIM nouvelle intronisée.

©Jurade de Saint-Emilion

There are different types of members and grades within the Jurade itself, all guardians of tradition: we distinguish the Protectors of the Jurade of Saint-Emilion, the Peers of the Jurade of Saint-Emilion, the Grand Almoner, the Chaplain and Prior of the Jurade, the Lady of the Jurade, the Chancellor of the Jurade, the Industrial Courts and the Winegrowers of Honor.


Chapters that punctuate the year 

Solemn events such as receptions and inductions, truly codified rituals, punctuate the Jurade year. These annual highlights, also called chapters, are opportunities to bring together the 140 jurats around festivities and moments of sharing. Among these traditional rites, we find the Harvest Proclamation, the judging of the new wine, the affixing of the seal, the solemn ceremony of induction of peers, industrial tribunals and honorary winegrowers.


The Spring Festival and the Harvest Proclamation are the two main Chapters of the year.


Spring Festival

It takes place every year on the third Sunday of June and celebrates the life that animates the vines and transforms the flowers into promising bunches of grapes.

Processus de Jurats pendant la Fête de Printemps 2023

©Guillaume Bonnaud


Harvest Proclamation

It is organized on the third Sunday in September with a procession of the Jurade in the village to the Tour du Roy and the Harvest Proclamation  from the top of the tower.


Originally and traditionally, the date of the harvest was subject to authorization. Experts were sent to the various vineyards of the City and determined whether or not they could start the harvest. Jurade then lifted the ban on the harvest; in other words, it lifted the ban on harvesting.


Les Jurats au sommet de la Tour du Roy pendant le Ban des vendanges

© JB Nadeau



Each of these solemn gatherings is the scene of inductions of personalities (Heads of State or members of the ruling family, high personalities from the political, literary, artistic world, or even personalities exercising an activity related to viticulture) in places steeped in history like the moat of the Palais Cardinal (12th century) or the monolithic church dug at the beginning of the 12th century and then seeing the jurats parade in their ancestral red dresses.


Future inductees or applicants take the oath “To Saint-Émilion always faithful” and benefit from the support of several godfathers who wear their Jurat costume for the occasion, consisting of a red dress with a white pleated flap and a white reverse. at the bottom of the sleeves, a cape and a white hackle. Added to this clothing is a red hat and white gloves.


These inductions seal an unwavering link with Saint-Emilion and are accompanied by art exhibitions, events around wines and the vineyard, concerts, a festive dinner in the moat of the Palais Cardinal, illuminations in the heart from the city. A great moment in the life of Saint-Emilion!

To date and since 1948, more than 3,000 personalities have been inducted, including Jean-Luc Sylvain during the Spring Festival in 2011.


Jean-Luc Sylvain en habit de Jurat aux côtés d’André Manoukian intronisé lors du Ban des Vendanges 2021.

Il existe également des temps forts extraordinaires selon les actualités, les anniversaires de propriétés ou de l’appellation à célébrer, qui viennent compléter ce calendrier de chapitres. 


Enfin, tout au long de l’année, des groupes de travail se réunissent régulièrement et échangent sur de nouvelles opportunités et sur les outils à développer pour entretenir et améliorer les relations entre professionnels et amateurs des vins de Saint-Émilion.


Les Chancelleries

La Jurade compte aujourd’hui une dizaine de chancelleries à Abidjan, York, Pékin, Oxford, Malte, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur et depuis novembre 2022 à Trondheim en Norvège. Elles sont chargées de faire la promotion des vins de Saint-Emilion dans le monde, d’entretenir les liens d’amitié avec les amateurs de vins de Saint-Émilion et les professionnels et d’assurer la transmission des valeurs de Saint-Émilion. 


Elles organisent tout au long de l’année des dégustations, des dîners, des rencontres et divers événements à l’attention des amateurs et des professionnels. Chaque année, les jurats rendent visite à l’une de ces chancelleries pour renforcer toujours plus le lien qui les unit. A cette occasion, un chapitre extraordinaire est organisé par la chancellerie visitée au cours duquel a lieu une nouvelle intronisation d’ambassadeurs. 


Chaque chancellerie est considérée comme une ambassade des vins de Saint-Emilion et chaque chancelier ou chancelière est Jurat à part entière, intronisé(e) par la Jurade. Ce réseau de chancelleries à travers le monde est destiné à être étendu à d’autres pays avec les années. 

La Jurade incarne les valeurs de solidarité et de convivialité propres aux Saint-Émilionnais, la grandeur et le rayonnement de leurs vins mais aussi les moments forts de la vigne et du vin. La Jurade est vouée à évoluer avec le temps, les périodes, à être incarnée par une nouvelle génération résolument tournée vers l’avenir et dont l’admission a été permise par des critères moins restrictifs qu’à ses débuts. C’est ainsi que de jeunes jurats marchent aujourd’hui dans le pas de leurs aînés, insufflant modernité et dynamisme.