The history of Gratien & Meyer is closely linked to the development of the railway. Aware of the importance of this means of transport, Alfred Gratien bought a piece of land known as "Le Petit Puy" in the Saumur district for production purposes.
The land was riddled with old mining shafts created during the mining of limestone (locally known as "pierre de tuffeau" or tuffeau limestone) in the 12th Century. The land had been abandoned for years, but was now the perfect place for Alfred Gratien to set up his business, so he purchased some 10 km of underground passages. The winery was founded in 1864.
In the same year, Alfred Gratien, who was 23 years old at the time, founded two wine houses, one in the Loire Valley near Saumur, and the other in the Champagne region in Epernay. A few years later, in 1874, he made Albert Jean Meyer, an enthusiastic wine connoisseur from Alsace, his partner to ensure the continuation of the company. When Alfred Gratien died in 1885, his widow entrusted the future of the company to Albert Jean Meyer.