French Wine Growing Regions
Second only to Spain, France has the world's largest total vineyard surface and competes with Italy for the
position of having the largest global wine production. French wine is produced in several regions throughout
France, on over two million acres of vineyards, and in a typical year some seven to eight million bottles of wine
Well known French wine growing regions include Alsace, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chablis, Champagne and the Loire
Alsace Wine Region
Wineries in the Alsace wine region have been active since the Roman conquest. The
Alsatians themselves are a mixed French-Germanic lot, with many of the senior inhabitants still speaking Alsatian,
which is a German dialect, at home. In spite of living in the smallest winemaking area in France, these proud folks
rightfully boast of their centuries old winemaking customs.
Bordeaux Wine Region
Situated in the south west of France close to the city of Bordeaux, near the Atlantic coast, the Bordeaux wine
region covers 10,725 square kilometres, comprising 284,000 acres of vineyards. It is home to 1000s of Châteaux, the
vineyard and other facilities for winemaking. The actual word Bordeaux says 'wine' to millions of folks around the
world. Many historians of the subject assure us that wine has been produced in Bordeaux since the first century AD
and, given the acknowledged ability for the great Bordeaux to age gracefully, there is no reason to doubt them.
Burgundy Wine Region
Situated in central east France, the region of Burgundy or Bourgogne is rich in world and winemaking history.
The region's 1.6 million inhabitants put up with cold Continental winters, but enjoy warm summers. Here over one
hundred eighty million bottles of some of the world's top-quality wines are made. From the full-bodied reds of
Pommard and Corton, the medium Beaune to the excellent whites and the dry Chablis or Chassagne Montrachet. Whatever
your preference, you can never go wrong with a Burgundy.
Champagne Wine Region
Champagne is not simply a bubbling wine, but the area from which the famed beverage derives its name. The
climate of the Champagne wine region is cooler than that of the southern French
vineyards, bringing a shorter growing season. Nearly one hundred miles northeast of the French capital and close to
the Belgian border, it is typically divided into three regions, which are the Côte des Blancs, the Vallée de la
Marne and Montagne de Reims, although there are other zones.
Languedoc Roussillon Wine Region
Languedoc Roussillon, which lies on the border of the Mediterranean between the Rhone delta and Spain, is the
biggest wine producing area in the world. Fifty thousand vine growers spread over an area of 10,500 square miles,
swelter in the intense summers for the sake of producing over two billion bottles of wine. The mild winters and hot
summers cooperate with diverse soil types ranging from limestone and sandstone to granite pebbles to host Carignan,
Grenache, Merlot and other reds. Not to be left behind the Roussane, Viognier, Chardonnay and other whites add to
provide ample work for the numerous cooperatives and private wineries.
Loire Valley Wine Region
The Loire Valley wine region, close to Nantes in western France, is among
the most picturesque winemaking areas in Europe. A narrow, but wide area following the Loire River, it weaves
its way from Auvergne and the Massif Central mountains to the Atlantic coast. Grapevines existed here as far back
as the Roman invasion into the Loire Valley. Historians affirm that as long ago as 380 AD red wines were made in
the surrounding hills and whites were fermented on the riversides.
Provence Wine Region
Provence was the first area in France to turn to winemaking around 2,600 years ago. The region lies in a
triangle formed near the Mediterranean coast by Nice in the east, Marseille in the west and Avignon to the
northwest. Nowadays some five hundred wineries tend vineyards on 68,000 acres, which is small by comparison to the
virtually ten times larger 6.7 million acres of Languedoc-Roussillon. In Provence, the siliceous and limestone
soils cooperate with mild winters and hot summers to grow Grenache and Syrah, as well as Ugni Blanc, Rolle and
Clairette, amongst others.
Cotes du Rhone Wine Region
The Rhone Valley, looks similar to a miniature Italy as it stretches 125 miles from south of Lyon to just south
of Avignon. Along this course the climate varies from the Rhone's cold winters and warm summers to the classic
Mediterranean where winters are mild and summers hot. The comparatively constant sun merges with granitic soil to
the north, limestone to the south to make Grenache, Syrah and Carignan used in reds, and Clairette, Ugni Blanc and
Grenache Blanc for white wines.