Le Fuselier Winery at Spring Creek Vineyards 
                                                                                                                At the foot of the Rockies, Canon City, Colorado
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Fuselier Family

The Fuselier de la Claire family dates back to at least the 1200s, when last names were just emerging. The American branch of the family all descends from a single man, the youngest son of a French industrialist, winemaker and nobleman, who left his home in Lyon and came to New Orleans in 1748.

 

His father and probably many other ancestors made wine in some of France’s oldest and best wine areas. During the French revolution, those who stayed behind in France lost both their vineyards and their heads. But we have revived their tradition in Canon City, reclaiming for our family winery labels the old family names of Le Fuselier and Fuselier de la Claire.

 

In Latin, “fusam” is a spindle and in the very early Middle Ages a fuselier was a spindle maker. The trade died out when spinning wheels were invented, but the word survived as the name of a French town dating back to the time of the Romans.

 

Of noble rank, the first Fuselier would have chosen his name from the village he owned, the village of Fuselier, located on an ancient road from Orleans to Verizon. Today it is a popular holiday resort in south central France.

 

The earliest Fuselier emerges into history during the reign of Charles I de Valois, Duke of Orleans. In her book “Joan of Arc, her story,” French historian Regine Pernoud writes about Charles’ return from England in 1440: “Once more the treasurer general, assisted by Etienne Le Fuselier, a counselor of the duke, set about satisfying his master’s debt (ransom).”

 

Etienne’s son, Jean le Fuselier, was also “chancellor of the Duke of Valois.” Marie Le Fuselier, either a sister or daughter of Jean Le Fuselier, had married Engilbert Clausse, Seigneur of Monochy.

 

Marguerite le Fuselier, Jean’s daughter, married Jacques de Croisette, the Siegneur de la Motte. Their son, Laurent de Croisettes, was “seigneur de la Motte, Meremont, St-Meme and Charny, advocate to Parliament, adviser to the King in his Councils, agent-general of his business and substitute for Monsier the Procureur General.”

 

By 1598 the family had added the suffix “de la Claire” in honor of St. Claire, and is known to have lived in Vignory-en-bassignu, Haute Marne, in the Lorraine/Champaign region. Henri Fuselier de la Claire and his wife Francoise, had a son named Francois Fuselier born about 1621. Francois married Sebastienne Royet and had a son named

Pierre Antoine Fuselier de la Claire, born Aug. 31, 1650.

 

In 1681, Pierre Antoine moved to Lyon, married Genevieve Campagnon and established himself thriving textile industry there. His son, Pierre Francois Fuselier de la Claire was born in 1686.

 

Pierre Francois, like his father, is described as being in the textile business but his interests were much, much broader. He is described in one account as a “wealthy Lyon merchant.” He was also Captain of the Lyon militia and is frequently referred to as Captain Fuselier de la Claire or Judge Fuselier de la Claire.

 

The Judge title stems from his appointment by the king as “juge conservateur des privileges royaux du roy a Lyon,” a kind of commercial court. In addition, Pierre Francois was listed as treasurer of the “Maison Generale de Lyon,” probably the city’s hospital or orphanage. He owned a home in Lyon known as St. Claire and an estate and village in Montagny where his winery bottled the fabulous premier cru wines, deeply red and intense, in an area now known as Cote du Rhone. This is the oldest wine area of France, and vineyard planting here preceded the Romans

 

Just a few miles south of Lyon, Montagny (Rhone-Alps, Rhone) is a quaint little rural village, formed into a circle at the top of a hill overlooking excellent vineyard land in all directions. His winery was in the nearby town of Millery.

 

Upon Pierre Francois’ death, the winery, complete with “its vats, wine press, barrels, furniture and furnishings,” was willed to his eldest child, Genevive Fuselier de la Claire. His eldest son, Claude Pierre Fuselier de la Claire, inherited the estate and noble titles. His youngest son, Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire, born in August, 1722, pulled up stakes and sailed for the French colony of New Orleans in 1748, at age 26.

 

 

 

 

After establishing himself in business in New Orleans, Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire in 1760 purchased from Kinemo, Chief of the Attakapas Indians, vast stretches of fertile prairie land lying west of the Atachafalaya River. Louis XV commissioned Gabriel to purchase 2000 acres on behalf of the king and to establish a French “post,” named the Attakapas Post, with Gabriel as Commandant.

 

The timing was excellent. In 1755, the British began the expulsion of all the French settlers (Acadians) in Nova Scotia. Thousands died during what is known as the Great Deportation. When Gabriel established his post, the survivors were already pouring into friendly Louisiana Territory and they provided a ready pool of hearty pioneers to settle the new post.

 

In 1770 Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire surveyed the land and began dividing it among the arriving settlers. In his history of Louisiana, Winston DeVille calls this “one of the keystones in the history of colonial settlement in Louisiana.”

 

All the Fuselier’s in America descend from Gabriel. It was a remarkably prolific family.

Gabriel was married twice and had 13 children. Gabriel’s seventh child (and second son), Louis Baptiste Fuselier de la Claire (born about 1785), went on to father 10 sons and seven daughters.

 

Gabriel’s eldest son, Agricole Fuselier de la Claire, carried on his father’s work and went on to make his own mark in Louisiana history, founding the city of New Iberia for arriving Spanish immigrants and, in 1790, establishing a large plantation on Bayou Teche near his father’s home.

 

Meanwhile, back in France, the Fuselier de la Claires who stayed behind were caught up in the French revolution and nearly all went to the guillotine. Lyon was France’s largest industrial town and history books say it was among the most violent places in the realm during the revolt. Today, the Fuseliers are almost entirely an American family. There are only 213 listings for people named Fuselier in all of France’s telephone directories.

 

Title to the French estates and winery were divided by the state among many people after the revolution. But 200 years later I am happy to revive the Fuselier de la Claire name in connection with a new vineyard and a new winery, in a new land.

David Fuselier and winery



 

The tasting room: Always a fun place to be on a Saturday afternoon.

 
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