The French Wine Laws

medieval images of wine making

French wine doesn't just happen...

It is the result of regulations and required processes that are the French wine laws...

Before all of these laws, anyone could grow any type of grapes anywhere they wanted and make their wine however they pleased.

The results were mediocre wine.

In Alsace, from the middle ages to the industrial revolution, most of the farming land available was used to grow grapes for wine making.

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Because wine was a luxury item and you could make a lot more money growing grapes and making wine than any other crop.

At the time, the now famous grape varieties grown in Alsace were a little harder to find...

Most of the grape varieties grown in Alsace in the past before the regulations were created were lower quality grape varieties.

But then again...

In the middle ages, the process of making and storing wine was very different and a lot less effective than it is now.

Fortunately all that has changed...

old village in alsace france

Now wine production is limited to certain areas of Alsace.

Areas where the grapes can get what they need to turn out the best harvests...

And the best wine...

If you want to grow wine outside of the approved areas or just not follow the rules for growing and making wine in Alsace, you can't use the "Appellation Alsace Controllée" on your wine bottles.

Your wine will say "Vin de Table" only.

Specific vineyards in the approved wine production areas have been given the special status of "Grand Cru" because they have the best weather and soil conditions.

And you can't grow whatever type of grapes you want...

You can only grow the ten "approved" grape varieties in Alsace:

  • Chasselas
  • Gewurtztraminer
  • Klevener de Heiligenstein
  • Muscat
  • Pinot Auxerrois
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Sylvaner

And if you are growing grapes in one of the Grand Cru vineyards, you're even more restricted...

Only Muscat, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer can be grown in Grand Cru vineyards.

I won't even get into all the other restrictions that the government's French wine laws impose on wine makers...

Like limiting the maximum number of grapes grown per square meter of vineyard...

Or having to face a panel of wine tasters from the governing French body for wine (INAO) every year in order to maintain their wines' status as Alsace AOC or Alsace Grand Cru AOC.

Let's just say that in France...

Wine is serious business.

More Information about Alsatian Wine

The French Wine Region of Alsace

The Different Types of Wine in Alsace and Terroir

The Different Types of White Wine in Alsace

How to Taste Wine in Alsace

Alsace Winery Reviews and Recommendations

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