One-quarter of France's wine production comes from the vineyards spread throughout the region of Languedoc-Roussillon. More than 250,000 hectares (618,000 acres) of vineyards cover some of the most diverse landscapes found in Europe. Its sheer scale makes it the largest single wine-producing region in the world. It used to be home to France's most basic wine, when quantity was prized over quality, but those days are disappearing.
More than 30 grape varieties are grown in wildly differing soils and climates, from the southernmost reaches of the Massif Central to the wide expanse of plains and flat coastal areas near the Mediterranean before heading towards the Pyrénées. Here you'll find reds, whites, rosés, sparkling wine, vins doux naturels (sweet fortified wines) -- all of which show distinctive characteristics of their own region and history. The birth of rosé, for example, wasn't in the hills of Provence but in the Languedoc village of Tavel not far from Nîmes. And the small town of Limoux south of Carcassonne came up with a sparkling wine (blanquette de Limoux) more than a century before Champagne's monks discovered the secret of what made wine fizz. Incidentally, Limoux is also home to one of the liveliest February carnivals to be found in France.
Some of the popular wine appellations include:
Corbières, from the rugged landscape southeast of Carcassonne
Minervois, from the area around the Montagne Noire north of Carcassonne
Fitou, from just north of Perpignan
Faugères and Saint-Chinian, in the hills northwest of Béziers
Pic Saint-Loup, from north of Montpellier
Costières de Nîmes, from south of Nîmes and bordering the Petit Rhône River
Banyuls and Rivesaltes, two vins doux naturels that come from their respective villages south of Perpignan
Côtes du Roussillon, from the villages in the foothills of the Pyrénées
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.