Manual labour and austerity bringing men closer to God, work in the vineyard and the Cellier can be compared with the reading of the gospels among the Cistercians who regarded themselves as workers in God's vineyard.
Bernard of Clairvaux, who advocated strict respect of the Cistercian ideal throughout his life, pushed this analogy between an earthly vineyard and a celestial one to its extreme. He wrote a treatise on viticulture, linking spiritual life with the tending of vines, "The mystical vine or a treaty on the passion of the Lord regarding the words: I am the true vine". Thus vines should be pruned to give fruit, they must suffer to gain better nourishment in poor soil; the vine is tied to the stake, as if to a cross; the bad grapes must be sorted so they do not enter the press, and the theme of the mystical press symbolizes the new religion brought by Christ, a fruitful vine... In Saint Bernard's writings, everything leads to Christian work: a vineyard that must be very well tended, in order to obtain the best wine.
Bernard's vision was to guide generations of abbots, monks and lay brothers, inspiring them to excel themselves in improving the quality of their wines, through the choice and respect of terroirs, the selection of grape varieties, the improvement of growing techniques, sorting the grapes, methods of making and maturing the wines, and sometimes through innovation, in France and all over the world.
No doubt in Burgundy, a region in which
wine-growing had already been established for at least several centuries, the
Cistercian monks were able to fulfil this dream of asceticism and were inspired
in this pursuit of excellence. So it was that they developed the geography of
terroirs, appellations and climats, of which the Clos were the ultimate expression.