Part of the historic landscape of the region, they were later developed by Augustinian and Benedictine monks between the 9th and 12th centuries.
The fondness of French kings for the vast lands of the Val de Loire only encouraged this expansion. Vines were planted on all the chalky slopes and tuffeau plateaux overlooking the Loire and its tributaries.
The rich soil of the Val de Loire is characterised in particular by a huge wine producing zone divided into four large regions (Pays Nantais, Anjou, Touraine and Centre) producing dry, demi-sec, moelleux (slightly sweet), liquoreux (very sweet) white wines, red, rosé and sparkling wines. The rich and varied Val de Loire wine-growing region covers more than 800km of tourist routes and includes 6 main varieties of grape : Cabernet Franc, Chenin, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Melon de Bourgogne and Sauvignon.
The Touraine wine-growing area is divided into several zones :
The main Touraine zone runs along both banks of the Loire from Blois to Saumur, extending across the slopes of the main tributaries of the Loire; beside the Vienne (Vignoble de Chinon), Indre (Vignoble de Touraine Azay-Le-Rideau), Cher, Brenne, Cisse and Bièvre (Vignoble de Cheverny).
The ‘Route des Vins du Val de Loire’ Wine Trail
The wine trail is by far the best way to discover all the secrets of wine production in the region : 50 AOC (Protected Designation of Origin) labels and names, the third largest AOC in France, 43,000 hectares of vineyards, 3,000 wine-growers, winegrower cooperatives and merchants. Out of the 1,000 cellars in Val de Loire, 350 have been approved as « démarche de qualité d’accueil en cave (wine cellar offering a quality welcome) », and 80 of these are classed as ‘excellent’.
The city of Tours is at the centre of the wine-growing region with 23 AOC wines; The designated areas for Touraine wines are spread over four départements : Indre-et-Loire, Loir-et-Cher, Sarthe and Indre. In Touraine, the Route des Vins du Val de Loire wine trail goes through the vineyards of AOC Bourgueil, Chinon, Montlouis and Vouvray.