Loire Valley


  1. History
  2. Loire Valley Wine Law
  3. The Market
  4. Land and Climate
  5. The Grapes of the Loire Valley
  6. Pays Nantais
  7. Anjou-Saumur
  8. Touraine
  9. Central Vineyards
  10. Central France
  11. Bibliography

The Loire Valley is the third largest wine region in France, yet it is also one of the country’s least well known. It follows the broad sweep of the Loire River for nearly 1,000 kilometers, from the mountains of the Massif Central in the center of France to the wild Atlantic coast in the northwest. The Loire and its tributaries are home to more than 50 appellations. Most are populated by small family winegrowers, many of whom have been farming the same land for centuries.

More famous for its châteaux than its wine, the Loire is a region of evident history, but it is a region of experimentation and discovery as well, where respect for the past and a spirit of innovation exist side by side. 


The Roman officer and historian Pliny the Elder completed his Natural History in 77 CE, reflecting the world he knew in the first century, including its vineyards and wines. In this text, he mentioned that vines were growing on the banks of the Loire, evidence that this region has a vinous history spanning at least two millennia. But it was not until the sixth century that Grégoire, the bishop of Tours, made the first reference to the vineyards in the local region of Touraine, which today includes Chinon and Vouvray. He also confirmed that vineyards were growing in the Sancerre area, writing, “In the year 582, a late frost scorched the vines.” The church was a driving force in the development of the Loire’s vineyards and wine production, as it was in other parts of France and Europe, until the French Revolution.

The Loire River and its tributaries have long provided a route to market for the region’s wines. On the western coast, close to the mouth of the river, Nantes has been an important trading hub for centuries. There is even a theory that in the 19

  • Hey Kamal! This changed in the most recent update to the CdC. The Expert Guide is updated to feature that. 

  • This seems to have changed to 51 g/l now vs 34g/l at the basis level, as per the compendium. Or did I read it wrong

  • Six villages—Beaulieu-sur-Layon, Faye-d’Anjou, Rablay-sur-Layon, Rochefort-sur-Loire, Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné, and Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay—can add their names to the basic appellation. To do so, yields must be slightly lower, at 30 hectoliters per hectare, though the level of residual sugar required is the same as that of the basic appellation. 

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  • Hey Domingo! The Languedoc and Rousillon are considered separate winemaking regions and their hectarage is counted as such. When separate, they are not in the top 3. 

  • Hey Domingo! There is an IGP for Apple Brandy in the area, Eau-de-vie de cidre du Maine. The guide's verbiage is updated to avoid confusion with the AOC.  

  • "The Loire has five IGPs for wine (and one for Calvados)"

    This suggests that IGP Calvados is for apple brandy, but it is indeed for wine.  Calvados the brandy has its own AOC.  Calvados is part of Normandy, not the Loire Valley.

  • "The Loire Valley is the third largest winegrowing area in France by hectarage, after Bordeaux and the Rhône."

    Did someone forget to count the Languedoc-Rousillon?

  • Hi Chris! You are correct, Gamay is the principal variety in the AOP. The guide is updated to reflect that. Thanks!

  • Hi Jonathan, wanted to clarify something. Côtes d’Auvergne in the guide states reds and roses can include a minority percentage of Gamay however the cahier de charges and the compendium list Gamay as the majority grape. Something here I'm missing?