Viticultural area: Rhône-Alpes

Associated viticultural areas France France Rhône-Alpes Rhône-Alpes


Savoy, Diois, Baronies, Forez, Bugey, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhône Nord
Viticulture in SavoyThe works of Pliny the Elder contain anecdotes referring to the wines of the Diois. In fact, Côte Rotie was mentioned by Pliny the Elder and in other documents discovered during the 6th century. These writitngs describe Emperor Constantine’s amazement at the vineyards of Beaujolais. Over the years, these wines built up an outstanding reputation, reaching the height of fame in 1890, when every south-facing patch of land on the hills was planted with vines. Unfortunately in the 1914-1918 war many men from the area were lost; and the consequent shortage of labour led to part of the land being abandoned. Around 1960 a small group of men decided to revitalize the hills by replanting vines.

Facts and figures 

Total wine-growing area of Rhône Alpes (ha.)


Total wine-growing area on difficult terrain

(altitude, steep slopes, terracing) (ha.)


Area with slopes > 30% (ha.)


Area at an altitude > 500 m above sea level (ha.)

About 700

Area terraced (ha.)

About 800

Maximum altitude of the vineyards (m above sea level)

700 m

Vineyards on difficult terrain

Hilly or mountainous areas

(Data updated to 2006)

Subdivision of the area

The most common situation (54.5% of wineries) concerns plots between 1 and 10 ha, covering 43.3% of the total area. 27.6% of the wineries cultivate areas smaller than 1 ha, covering 2.2% of the total area. The remaining 54.5% of the area is made up of 17.9% of the wineries, cultivating over 10 ha each.

Wine-growing landscape

The countryside consists of vineyards managed as specialised cultivations on the slopes of Beaujolais, Savoy and Côtes du Rhône Nord. In  the latter area there are also the largest stretches of terraces supported by dry stone walling. In the less specialised areas, especially in the higher areas, the vines grow alongside crops for animal fodder. The country buildings are generally well maintained. Routes known as “wine trails” have been set out for tourists, visitng sites with particular historical value. The vineyard landscape sometimes suffers from infringing urbanisation and installation of infrastructures in the plain.

Main vines

White grapes:

  • Viognier
  • Jacquère
  • Sauvignon blanc
  • Marsanne
  • Altesse
  • Clairette
  • Roussanne
  • Roussette
Black grapes:

  • Gamay
  • Syrah
  • Grenache noir
  • Pinot noir
  • Mondeuse noir