THE VINEYARDS OF THE RHONE VALLEY
More than 2600 years old: The vineyards of the Rhône Valley were created by the Phoceans and then developed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC, more than 2000 years ago. The monks and nobles of the region led the development of this wine region in the middle ages.
Nowadays, the Rhone Valley extends over 200 km from Vienne to Luberon, extending to near 66572 hectares and divided into two parts.
The northern valley extends from Vienne to Valence, including the departments of Rhône, Ardèche, Loire and Drôme. The Southern Valley extends from Montélimar to Avignon, including the departments of Drôme, Ardèche, Vaucluse and Gard. 95% of the wines of the Rhône Valley are produced in the southern part.
IDEAL CONDITIONS FOR THE VINE
The vines benefit from a set of climatic conditions that are very favorable.
In the northern part of the valley, there is a moderate continental climate with hot and sunny summers. The autumns are cooler and the winters harsher than in the southern part. In the southern part of the Rhone Valley the climate is Mediterranean with dry and hot summers. The winters are mild with plenty of Mistral wind (a great asset for the vineyard because the wind helps to keep away diseases).
As for the climate, there are important differences in the topography and soils from north to south.
In the north, the hillsides are very steep, while in the south there are small hills with gentle relief and vast flat areas. The main soils of the Northern Rhône Valley are clay, stone or granitic and offer colorful, powerful wines with beautiful aromatic finesse. In the South, the wine growers cultivate on clay, stone , limestone or sandy soils (limestone and sand bring lightness and subtlety to the wines). Diverse in soil and rich in ancestral know-how, the Rhône Valley has a lot to offer to wine lovers.
We can discover wines of different styles: varieties in the north consisting predominantly of marsanne, roussanne and viognier (for the white wines) as well as Syrah (the queen of the north) for the red wines. In the south, winegrowers blend more varieties and terroirs. The most used red grape varieties are Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. The white blends are mostly made with white Grenache, Roussanne, Clairette and Marsanne. Most of the wine produced is red (76%) but there are also excellent rosé wines (14% of the total wine production) and white wines (10%). These vineyards represent:
- More than 5,000 vineyards producing AOC wines
- 2.6 million hectoliters harvested per year (33% of the production is exported)
- 31 AOCs, some of which are world famous
- 17 village crus (Côte - Rôtie, Condrieu, Château Grillet, St Joseph, Crozes - Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas, St Peray, Vinsobres, Cairanne, Rasteau, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Vacqueyras, Châteauneuf du Pape, Tavel, Lirac)
- 34 grape varieties
- 6000 hectares of certified biodynamic, organic or in conversion