Wines have been made in the Rhone Valley since the time of the Romans, who left behind the ruins of aqueducts and amphitheaters. The Rhone Valley stretches for 140 miles from Lyon to Avignon and is divided into two regions: north and south.
The wines of the north and south are as dramatically different as the climate and the landscape The warm-weather wines of the south tend to be thick, dark, rich blends of as many as nine different red grape varieties. Wines of the southern Rhone also include sweet fortified Muscats from Beaumes-de-Venise, and the burly reds and aromatic whites of the sun-baked vineyards of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
In the cooler north, fragrant Viognier of Condrieu and the exotic Marsanne/Roussanne blend of white Hermitage are among the elegant whites. Red Hermitage, made from Syrah, is one of the world's great wines, at one time commanding prices to rival the First Growths of Bordeaux.