The French Alps is a region known for its exceptional skiing and awe-inspiring views—flower-filled meadows, pristine natural lakes, and charming mountaintop retreats make for a lovely, laidback vacation destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

However, the area also has a little-known secret—its nutrient-rich, clay-infused soil. A by-product of the region's geology that is largely responsible for creating over 10,000-foot tall mountains, the vine-loving soil is extremely amenable to growing grapes; thus making the region a perfect (albeit lesser-known) spot for some incredible wineries.

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In The Village of Jongieux

A small village in the Savoie area of the French Alps, Jongieux is a picturesque spot near the Lac du Bourget, the largest natural lake in France.

Domaine Carrel François Et Fils

This large vineyard is known for producing wine from the Mondeuse grape variety; well-known in the French Alps, this grape is not nearly as popular outside this region. A family winery, Vin de Savoie has many vines over 100 years old.

  • Location: 3480 Route Des Vignobles, 73170 Jongieux
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 AM-12 PM, Sundays and public holidays 2 PM-7 PM
  • Most Famous Wines: Red Jongieux, made from 100% Mondeuse grapes; Jacquére, made from white alpine grapes of the same name

The Rich Soil of Apremont

A 13th-century landslide created a unique environment for grape growing in the Apremont region. The landslide’s disruption left behind red and blue clay soils and limestone rubble, part of the reason why local winemakers believe their wine is so special. To this day, vines grow on the limestone remains, producing distinctive wines throughout the area.

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Domaine Dupraz

This winery is family-run and has a winemaking past that spans over six generations. Winemaker Jérémy Dupraz cites the area’s geography as the reason for their distinctive Jacquére wine.

  • Location: Le Reposoir 733190 Apremont
  • Hours: Thursday-Saturday 2-7 PM
  • Most Famous Wines: The fruity, perfumed Jacquéres are unique to the area, and La Mondeuse (made from grapes of the same name) is a smooth, full-bodied red

Philippe & Sylvain Ravier

Also located in Apremont, this winery offers a scenic spot to sip its distinctive wine. Known for its Jaquére grapes grown in ‘Les abymes’ (the chasms), the wines here also benefit from the 700-year-old landslide that left behind limestone and marl deposits.

  • Location: Domaine des Boissonnets, 68 chemin du cellier 73800 Myans
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 9 AM-12 PM, 2-7 PM, Saturday 2-6 PM
  • Most Famous Wines: The peachy, fruity Jacquére Les Abymes is flavorful and delicious; and the Mondeuse has a blackcurrant undertone that complements its slightly astringent finish

A Tasting Room With A View

Not far from Apremont is another family winery also known for producing Les Abymes. Consisting of over 50 acres, the vines are at home in these sheer, rocky slopes in Savoie.

André & Michel Quenard

  • Location: 1327 route du Coteau de Torméry, Torméry-Cidex 210, 73800 Chignin
  • Hours: Winemakers are on property Monday-Friday after 8 AM, closed 12 PM-2:20 PM. Appointments are recommended after 6 PM. Saturday hours are 9:30 AM-12 PM, 2:30-5 PM
  • Most Famous Wines: Bergeron whites made with stone-fruits such as Les Eboulis made with Jacquére grapes that is pale gold and fresh-tasting; the red Chignin Mondeuse is a perfect meal pairing that is robust and slightly peppery

Anyone visiting the French Alps will want to take time out from activities like winter skiing and summer hiking to visit one of these amazing wineries. Made with signature grapes that are a product of the area’s unique geology, these wines are worth a taste for anyone who appreciates creative, thoughtful winemaking; and the distinctive regional heritage of these special Savoie wines certainly fits the bill.

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