The Domaine de Vassal houses one of the largest ampelographic collections in the world. The site is located between Agde and Sète on a strip of sand between the Mediterranean Sea and the Étang de Thau lagoon (a body of water separated from the sea) in Marseillan about 50 kilometres from Montpellier in the Hérault department. The site is now managed by INRAE (formerly INRA), "Institut National de Recherche pour l'Agriculture, l'Alimentation et l'Environnement"
The first collection was established in 1876 at the École d'agriculture de Montpellier (now Montpellier SupAgro) due to the phylloxera disaster, in order to preserve grape varieties from all continents that were threatened by the pest. The small area and the mediocre hygienic condition of the specimens led Professor Jean Branas (1905-1998) to transfer the collection to the Domaine de Vassal owned by INRA (old name of INRAE) from 1949 to 1950. The choice of a sandy soil was determined by the fact that phylloxera cannot develop there and, moreover, virus vector nematodes cannot multiply. Therefore, healthy and diseased vines can be combined