Discover 13 French wine regions!

Les vignes de Julienas, dans la région du Beaujolais

Ah… la France, what a beautiful country!

Renowned for its gastronomy (not just baguette and croissants), its historical monuments, its fashion but also its wine, France has been shining in the whole world for some time.

But do you know why this country has such a developed wine culture? Or why French wine regions are such a reference in the vast world of wine-enthusiasts & experts?

french wine regions

To begin with, it is good to know that wine is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in France. This study was carried out on a population aged from 18 to 75 years old. The results are therefore not misleading! After all, it must be admitted that if France produces 4.2 billion liters of wine in 2019 (i.e. 17% of world production), no one will hesitate to taste it… Qualified as the second largest wine producer in the world behind the Italy by volume, France has 75% of so-called “still” wines, of which 55% are red wines, 26% white wines and 19% rosés.

To find out more about the wine consumption of French people, here are some figures:

  • France is the 2nd wine-consuming country in the world, behind the United States and ahead of Italy.
  • More than 3.5 billion bottles were consumed in 2019.

Nevertheless, despite their passion for wine and the world that surrounds it, be aware that the French consumption has been declining for 30 years. The Français have gone from 100 liters of wine per inhabitant per year in 1975, down to just 40 liters today.

Our conclusion is: by tasting less, we savor more!

French wine regions

After having given you some key-figures of the world of wine in France, let’s discover the wine regions that embellish the country. Out of a total of 18 regions, you will stay with us to explore 13 of them.

Alsace vineyards

Alsace vineyards

Alsace wineries are amazing to discover. Producers of exceptional white wines, they are best known for their wines made from grape varieties such as Pinot Gris, Sylvaner or Riesling. The Alsace Wine Route is also surprising and unmissable if you pass through the region. In Alsace, there are 2 wine regions (Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin), 3 AOC-AOP appellations, 637 labeled wines and 54 denominations.

Champagne vineyards

champagne vineyards

The Champagne wine region does not need an introduction, as we trust you know something of it! Home to the best Champagne houses such as Champagne Dom Pérignon or even Champagne Moët & Chandon make the region shine in the world. The vineyard is divided into 6 wine regions. There are 3 AOC-AOP wine appellations and 5 denominations. These most popular grape varieties are Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Bordeaux vineyards

bordeaux vineyards
The famous Chateau Cos D’Estournel, Bordeaux Region, France

Bordeaux wineries are so well-known that we no longer need to praise their merit. There are so many Grands Crus Classés that come from this region: Cheval Blanc, Margaux, Yquem, Pétrus and so many others. The Bordeaux vineyard is divided into 6 distinct wine regions; we find the Médoc, Graves, Entre-deux-Mers, Sauternes, Libourne and Blaye-Bourg.

Beaujolais vineyards

The Beaujolais region is famous for its Beaujolais Nouveau, but once there, you should not miss its red and rosé wines which are of remarkable quality. We also advise you to taste some Grands Crus of the region such as Juliénas or Moulin-À-Vent.

Jura vineyards

The Jura vineyard is made up of two wine regions: Côtes du Jura and Arbois. There are 6 wine appellations, 27 labeled wines and 7 denominations! It is also in the heart of this vineyard that the famous yellow wine was born, a surprising story that the winegrowers of the area are eager to tell you!

Burgundy vineyards

burgundy vineyards

World-famous Burgundy wine region includes fabulous grape varieties such as Pinot Noir for red wines and Chardonnay for white wines. This wine region is rich in climatic influences that are found in its wines and make them unique. Discover the best Burgundy wine tours here.

Provence vineyards & Corsica vineyards

The vineyards of Provence and Corsica are often presented together. Provence is seen as the region of rosé wines and Corsica as the “Island of Beauty” where the work of the winegrowers is constantly praised.

Languedoc-Roussillon vineyards

The Languedoc-Roussillon vineyard is the largest in France with its 246,000 hectares. It is divided into 2 wine regions: Languedoc and Roussillon, in which are hidden 28 AOC-AOP appellations.

Rhône Valley vineyards

rhone valley vineyards

It is in the Rhône vineyard that the great wine Châteauneuf du Pape is found. The vineyard is divided into 3 wine regions within which there are 28 AOC-AOP appellations: the northern Rhône, the southern Rhône, the Coteaux du Lyonnais.

Loire valley vineyards

loire valley vineyards

The Loire vineyard is made up of magnificent castles and numerous waterways. This. Very extensive vineyard is divided into 5 wine regions and there are 52 AOC-AOP wine appellations.

Lorraine vineyards

The Lorraine vineyard is renowned for its famous gray wine, most of the time served as an accompaniment to… quiche Lorraine! This vineyard is separated into 3 wine regions: Meuse, Moselle and Toul.

South-West vineyards

The South-West vineyard is so large that it covers almost the entire Aquitaine region, but its area does not exceed that of the Languedoc-Roussillon vineyard. Nevertheless, it is the vineyard that has the most wine regions: 9 in total.

Savoie vineyards

savoie vineyards

The Savoie vineyard is made up of several small plots of vines. It is divided into 2 wine regions (as you might have guessed): Savoie, and Bugey. There are 5 wine appellations and 67 labeled wines

French wine appellations

french wine appellations

We talked about it previously without mentioning it completely… But what are the appellations of French wines? We tell you everything, right away!

In France, wines are referred to as “wine appellations”. This means that the production and marketing of wines are subject to French and European laws if producers want to benefit from the AOC-AOP or IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) labels.

To benefit from this title, everything is controlled: the geological characteristics, the natural and human factors of the wine. In addition, chemical and organoleptic analyzes are carried out to guarantee the origin and nature of the wine. Today, the French vineyard produces more than 3000 different wines for just under 400 appellations in 13 major wine regions.

To discover some of them, we advise you to visit the winegrowers whose appellations appeal to you. They will be able to share their passion for wine and the workings of their know-how with you. You can book your next visit now on Winalist.

Enjoy your Wine tour around France!

FAQ & Useful resources

What is the largest wine region in France?

The Languedoc-Roussillon vineyard is the largest in France with its 246,000 hectares. It is divided into 2 wine regions: Languedoc and Roussillon, in which are hidden 28 AOC-AOP appellations.

What is the oldest vineyard in France?

Provence, the oldest vineyard in France. 26 centuries old, this vineyard is considered to be the first in France. 2600 years ago, the Phocaeans introduced the vine to the country.

What are the 5 famous wine regions in France?

The most famous French wine regions are Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Provence and Rhone Valley.

Tips for Visiting France’s Wine Regions

Depending on the particular region, the wineries themselves may not offer tastings for visitors. Look for signs that say “degustation,” which means tasting. In the smaller villages, you may find one location that offers tastings representing more than one winery. When it comes to the big chateaux in places like Bordeaux, you’ll either need a reservation, if they allow visitors, or access via an organized tour that has credentials.
As with many towns and villages in Europe, don’t be surprised to find everything closed on Sundays. Big cities like Bordeaux will have restaurants and shops open. Don’t skip driving through wine country if the only day you can go is a Sunday as many of the villages are less congested and rather charming when it’s completely quiet.

Grape varieties in the French wine regions

A few dozen varieties of grapes are grown in the various appellations, including :
Ugni Blanc (used for Cognac)
Cabernet sauvignon
Cabernet Franc
Sauvignon blanc
Pinot Noir
Petit Verdot

What are the French Wine Categories ?

French wine falls under five broad categories – white, red, rose, sparkling, and fortified.

White wine :
White wine is made from whites like Chardonnay or Viognier, red, or black grapes by extracting pigments away and using only the grape juice. This style of wine typically has bright, savory, and creamy flavors typical to a Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Moscato.

Red wine :
Red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Bordeaux or a Syrah blend from Côtes du Rhône is made the same way as white wine – the difference is that the grape skin, grape pip, and seeds are included in the fermentation process. Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah are the most popular red wines.

Rose wine :
Rose wine is made with red or black grape varieties with a shorter fermentation period around 24-36 hours. It’s also sometimes made by blending red and white wines together.

Sparkling wine :
Sparkling wines contain high levels of carbon dioxide, making them fizzy when opened. They are fermented in a sealed environment without allowing the gas to escape.
A good sparkler would taste bright and fresh in your mouth, fruity, and sometimes sweet. It is synonymous with Champagne from the Champagne region in France, but there are many other fine sparklers like a Vouvray Effervescent.

Why is French Wine So Diverse?

The diversity of French wines is due to the range of climates, geology, and topography across the country.
Champagne in the north has a cool climate.
Rhone Valley in the southeast is warm and dry.
Bordeaux, in the southwest, has a Mediterranean, temperate climate.
Burgundy and Alsace in the east have warm summers and cold winters.
In the deep south, Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon are characterized by hot summers and mild winters.
Apart from climate differences, France’s wine regions have unique soil types and geographical features that create unique characteristics in their wines. For example, Beaujolais is filled with granite hills, while Chablis has chalky sloping terrain, and Medoc is predominantly gravel.