The Roman occupation contributed to the birth of viticulture in Beaujolais. Helped by its terroir with great exposure, its proximity to the Saône and Rhône river and the growth of the closest towns, the Beaujolais intensifies its wine business in the 17th century.
Covering about 22,870 hectares, the vineyard of Beaujolais is planted on the last slopes of the Massif Central, West of the Saône, between the city of Lyon and the town of Mâcon. The Beaujolais region is under the influence of 3 different climates: continental in the Winter, oceanic in the Spring and the Fall, and mediterranean in the Summer. Being part of the wider Burgundy region, the wines of Beaujolais can claim the appellation Bourgogne Coteaux Bourguignons (ex- Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire) or Bourgogne. However, the Beaujolais region has its own appellations : the AOC Beaujolais is the widest and included the entire vineyard, the Beaujolais-Villages AOC covers the central and the northern part of the vineyard, and the 10 Crus Beaujolais which are Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte-de-Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour.
Thanks to the Beaujolais Nouveau, an en-primeur wine, the Beaujolais region is famous worldwide. The wines of Beaujolais are often wrongly considered as easy-to-drink and without much ambition. However, they deserve to be taken more seriously as they sometimes represent the best value of the French vineyard and don't compromise on quality. For example, the Beaujolais appellation obliges the vine growers to hand pick the grapes, an obligation only found in Champagne. The only grape planted is the Gamay Noir for the red wine. It represents nealry the entire production of the region. The few white Beaujolais are made with Chardonnay.