The Northern Rhone has a continental climate, although there is some Mediterranean influence. The valley is steep and narrow and the vines are generally staked to a single post. The main white varieties are Viogneir, Marsanne and Roussane and the red grape variety Syrah. Hermitage is the most famous, long lived and highest quality wine of the region. The name Hermitage comes from a legend where a wounded knight came back from the crusades and sort refuge living there as a hermit.
As the Rhone Valley runs south towards the Mediterranean, the structure of the valley changes from the steep valley of the Northern Rhone, flattening out towards the south. The climate is Mediterranean, raining mostly in the winter and is milder and warmer than the Northern Rhone in the summer. This is the reason the vines are not trained along wires, instead trained low to the ground in a bush style called Gobelet. The terrain is characterised by large rounded stones called Galets which can be several inches across, they retain heat very well and reflect it up into the vine during both the day and night. The best known region is Chateauneuf-de-Pape and all the bottles carry the papal seal. This refers to the relocation of the papal court to Avignon in the 14th century. There are 13 grape varieties of red and white permitted here the most important being Grenache.