Year in, year out, France enjoys its prestigious reputation as the producer of the finest wines in the world. With a wine making history which spans several thousand years and owes its expertise to the Romans, it comes as little surprise that this most highly esteemed of the Old World wine countries continues to impress and enchant both novices and experts to this day. Despite the rise in quality of wines from neighboring European countries, not to mention the New World, the French wine industry continues to boom, with up to eight billion bottles being produced in recent years. However, France prides itself on always putting quality before quantity, and the wide range in fine produce is a testament to the dedication and knowledge of the wineries across the country. Indeed, from rich and complex reds to light and aromatic white wines, French wines are as varied and interesting as they are enjoyable to drink, making this country a firm favorite for wine lovers across the globe.
One of France's most exciting red wine appellations, lies in the far north of the northern Rhone, well beyond the town of Tain where the major negociants and Hermitage is located. Some believe it is the site of the first vineyard cultivation in ancient Gaul. Vineyards have been carved into the steep hillsides here since the time the Romans settled the nearby town of Vienne. Viticulture is difficult here, with vines planted in schist banked high above the Rhone River to maximize sun exposure.