Surprisingly, the origin of Rhône wine is not very French. It’s actually the ancient Greeks of pre-Roman France who we have to thank for introducing vineyards into this part of modern-day France.
While the ancient Greeks introduced the first grapes, it was the ancient Romans who refined the plants, wine production, and storing. Much of this Roman influence on Rhône wine began in the first century AD. The Romans built villas and wineries, like the famous villa of Molard, and they also refined their processes for storing wine in earthenware vessels called amphorae.
Wine in the Rhône Valley was shifted back into the spotlight when the papacy moved from Rome to Avignon in the 14th century. The succession of Avignon popes spent a lot of time and money investing in revitalizing and transforming Rhône wine into exquisite, high-quality libations.
It was actually Pope John XXII who built a summer palace in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. During this time, the wine produced here was called “Vin du Pape” or “Papal Wine.” This later transitioned into the modern-day moniker of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.