Vineyards and wine tourism

Chambéry Montagnes presents another side to the Savoy vineyard and its unique grape varieties.

Savoy wine is among the oldest in France. Savoy’s iconic grape varieties include jacquère, altesse and roussanne for white wine and mondeuse, persan and pinot gris for red wine. What are you waiting for? Try the wine that Chambéry Montagnes and Cœur de Savoie are famous for. Everything in moderation of course. Please drink responsibly.

An ancient regional tradition

Savoy may not be the most famous winemaking region but it is one of the oldest in France as vine growing was first mentioned in 600BC. Monks conducted the first experiments in winemaking and vine growing in the Middle Ages before it became a major farming activity in the Duchy of Savoy. Vines covered the plains up to the hillsides at an altitude of over 1000m between the 16th and 18th century.

When Savoy became part of France in 1860, it had a significant effect on Savoy wine as it became a direct competitor with wine from the South of France.

The arrival of phylloxera in Savoy in 1877 wreaked considerable havoc, as it did throughout France, and the local vineyards almost didn’t survive.

The Post-War period in the 20th century saw the Savoy vineyard rise like a phoenix from the flames: vine growing and winemaking methods were updated, the yields and quality improved. It was transformed by the industry’s organisation, the boom in winter tourism and being awarded the PDO designation in 1973.

Vines have played a huge part in sculpting the Savoy landscape. Today, they still play a key role in the region’s agricultural economy. The current vineyards are concentrated in the most favourable areas for cultivation, guaranteeing consistent quality.

Savoy’s wine-growing organisations, associations and professionals have now all come together at the Maison de la Vigne et du Vin (House of vines and wine) to champion and promote Savoy wine.

Savoy grape varieties and geographical denominations

What makes Savoy wine unique is its grape varieties that are well-suited to the climate and limestone subsoil.

The second most important agricultural activity in Savoy after cheesemaking, winegrowing boasts 25 grape varieties, producing 21 distinctive geographical denominations (formerly known as “crus” or vintages).

The main white grape varieties growing in Chambéry Montagnes and Cœur de Savoie

  • Jacquère: typically Savoyard, the most widespread variety covering 50% of the Savoie vineyard. Features: vigorous vine stock, medium clusters, randomly sized spherical berries. It produces pale and refreshing wine with a light fizz (sparkling) and notes ranging from earthy to white florals. Geographical denominations: Abymes, Apremont, Chignin, Cruet, Jongieux, Montmélian and Saint Jeoire Prieuré.
  • Altesse: typically Savoyard, it covers 10% of the vineyard but is expanding. Features: vigorous vine stock, small clusters, small ellipsoidal berries. It produces complex, floral and fruity wine that is rich yet refreshing. Geographical denominations: Monterminod.
  • Roussanne: known as Bergeron in Savoy, only grows in Chignin, Francin and Montmélian and accounts for just 4% of the vineyard. Features: vigorous vine stock, medium clusters, medium spherical berries. It produces Chignin-Bergeron (single variety), rich wine with powerful ripe fruit aromas (apricot, quince) and honey notes.

The main red grape varieties growing in Chambéry Montagnes and Cœur de Savoie

  • Mondeuse: typically Savoyard, this grape variety is on the rise and covers 12% of the vineyard. Features: vigorous vine stock, fairly large clusters, randomly sized spherical berries. It produces colourful wine, high in tannins with the aromas of spices, white pepper and fruits of the forest (blackcurrant). Geographical denominations: Arbin and Saint Jean de la Porte.
  • Persan: typically Savoyard, originally from Maurienne (a Savoy valley) and gradually reclaiming its place in Combe de Savoie. Features: vigorous vine stock, medium clusters, small ovoid berries. It produces wine with a full-bodied structure and unique aromatic signature.
  • Pinot Gris: known as Malvoisie in Savoy, it covers fifty-odd hectares. Features: vigorous vine stock, cylindrical clusters, small tight berries.

Find out more

  • Hit the Savoy Wine Route or take part in classes and tastings at the Maison de la Vigne et du Vin in Apremont.
  • Visit the winemakers, restaurants, accommodation, museums, Tourist Information centres and service providers united under the banner of the Cœur de Savoie and Chambéry region, which has been awarded the Vignobles et Découvertes label (wine tourism label).
  • Visit Chambéry for the Chambéry by Wine event, held in the old town in July.