How many of us have never tasted sunshine in a bottle from Languedoc? Wine lovers will be familiar with names such as Muscat de Lunel, Frontignan, Rivesaltes, Saint-Chinian, Banyuls, Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux – and for good reason! Languedoc-Roussillon champions diversity, producing wines with a radiant and delicate sense of nuance. Over four administrative departments (Aude, Gard, Hérault and Pyrénées-Orientales), the world’s most extensive (over 200,000 hectares) and oldest wine region produces over 1,800,000 hectolitres a year.
Wine growing emerged in the region in the 5th century BC, first under the Greeks, then the Romans. Vineyards in Languedoc expanded until the 17th century when phylloxera devastated France’s wine regions in 1868. After the crisis came a period of spectacular growth: the turn of the 20th century saw a significant surge in the area under vine in the region which became one of France’s largest wine areas.
The race for excellence – expanding exports to the United States
In 2013, over 453 million bottles of wine were exported, making the region France’s leading exporter. Sales in the United States doubled in five years. The results have vindicated the regional strategy for selling wines abroad, underpinned by the Sud de France umbrella brand.
Spearheaded by Sud de France Développement, promotional activities for Languedoc wines are currently being rolled out in various states across the USA. During the first quarter of 2015, exports to the United States grew by 20%. “From a geographical perspective, sales to America are showing strong growth”, noted the Languedoc-Roussillon regional department for agriculture, food and forestry (DRAAF) in its quarterly economic outlook report, “and benefited from improved pricing with an average price of €491.5/hl, up €60 on the first quarter of 2014”.