France is one of the largest wine producers in the world. French wine traces its history to the 6th century BC, with many of France's regions dating their wine-making history to Roman times. The wines produced range from expensive high-end wines sold internationally to more modest wines usually only seen within France. Two concepts central to higher end French wines are the notion of "terroir", which links the style of the wines to the specific locations where the grapes are grown and the wine is made, and the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. Appellation rules closely define which grape varieties and winemaking practices are approved for classification in each of France's several hundred geographically defined appellations, which can cover entire regions, individual villages or even specific vineyards. France is the source of many grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah) that are now planted throughout the world, as well as wine-making practices and styles of wine that have been adopted in other producing countries.
The Rhône wine region in Southern France is situated in the Rhône River Valley and produces numerous wines under various Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designations. The region's major appellation in production volume is Côtes du Rhône AOC. The Rhône is generally divided into two sub-regions with distinct vinicultural traditions, the Northern Rhône and the Southern Rhône. The northern sub-region produces red wines from the Syrah grape, sometimes blended with white wine grapes, and white wines from Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier grapes. The southern sub-region produces an array of red, white and rosé wines, often blends of several grapes such as in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.