Guide to the wines and appellations of the Northern Rhone Valley - The Rhône Valley/Le Vins de la Vallée du Rhône (Comité Interprofession des vins AOC Côtes et vallée du Rhône)
Phocaean Greeks established viticulture in the Rhone as far back as 600 BC, but until the 14th century the wines were not seen outside the region. The establishment of the Avignonese Papacy (1305-1377) brought fame to the region's wine-so much so that their Burgundian neighbors to the north banned wines from the Rhone in 1446, a measure that effectively cut off trade with England and other Northern European markets for over 200 years. Stretching southward from Lyon to just south of Avignon, the Rhone produces a wide variety of wines, with the appellations north of Valence producing the least (in volume), and the towns south of Montelimar producing prodigious amounts. As in other regions, the most interesting wines come from small farms. Saint-Joseph, in the northern Rhone, extends for some distance between Condrieu in the north to Saint-Peray in the south. The reds are made from Syrah and the rare whites from Marsanne and Rousanne, and Viognier.