How Rhône Valley Vineyards Is Driving U.S. Momentum for the Region’s Wines

As part of a multi-year action plan, the wine producers and traders of the Rhône Valley are making strategic moves to strengthen their presence in the U.S. market—and their efforts are paying off

A landscape photograph of a Rhône Valley Vineyard
Inter Rhône is leading a campaign to put more Rhône Valley wines in the spotlight. Photo courtesy of Inter Rhône.
This advertising content was produced in collaboration with our partner, Rhône Valley Vineyards.

For the Rhône Valley, the U.S. market stands out as number one in export turnover and ranks third in volume. Since 2014, there has been a steady increase of 3.5 percent per year. This consistent growth signals not just the appetite for Rhône Valley wines among U.S. consumers, but also reflects the region’s strategic and targeted efforts to cater to the nuanced tastes and preferences of the American market.

The Rhône Valley, located in southern France, has 31 AOCs dotted along the Rhône river. Rich in a diversity of terroirs, the wines cover every price point, from easy-drinking Côtes du Rhône up to some of the world’s most emblematic reds and whites. Much of this is well known to any U.S. wine professional; Inter Rhône, the organization that represents the Rhône Valley Vineyards AOCs, is set on showcasing what more the region can offer. 

The multi-year action plan specifically targets the U.S. market, positioning Rhône Valley wines as the go-to option for discerning sommeliers, restaurateurs, and retail shop owners. At the heart of this expansion lies a strategy that empowers France’s second-largest AOP region to engage with wine buyers directly through a roster of promotional activities and bespoke events. 

Rhône Valley’s “Tour de Force” Across the U.S.

Inter Rhône organized an activity-packed North American events lineup in 2023. It included the formation of the Academy du Rhône, a masterclass concept hosted by Evan Goldstein, MS, and David Keck, MS. It stopped in 10 major cities around the U.S. with nearly 400 students in attendance, featuring a three-hour masterclass, guided tasting of 18 regional wines, and a challenging online 40-question quiz. “It was indeed a veritable Rhône Valley tour de force across the country,” says Goldstein. “Rhône in the U.S.A. had a new meaning in 2023 and one that would make Bruce Springsteen proud!” 

As well as the roadshow, Inter Rhône introduced New York, Chicago, and San Francisco to the best of the Rhône Valley at the Winemaker Tour—a series of large walkaround tastings in which a delegation of 30 winemakers traveled together and poured nearly 100 wines. For Goldstein, these efforts paid off with unprecedented engagement: “The U.S. wine trade loves Rhône Valley wine,” he says.   

Building on last year’s success, activations are planned throughout 2024 with more masterclasses, training programs, and trips to the region, as well as the continuation of the Academy du Rhône. The aim is simple: to introduce even more U.S. wine industry professionals to the versatility and depth of Rhône Valley wines. 

A Focus on Color Diversification

The Rhône Valley might be best known for its red wine—which currently represents around 75 percent of the region’s production—but there is a shift towards more plantings of white varieties, with the most recent Rhône Valley harvest seeing a nine percent increase. Right now it comprises just 12 percent of the total volume, but that presents a significant market opportunity, especially as the U.S. is currently the top export market for white Côtes du Rhône bottlings. Inter Rhône aims to double the production of still white wines by 2031 and promote the Rhône Valley as a major white wine production region

Wine critic Anna Lee Iijima referred to the Rhône in White dinner at New York City’s Manhatta, at which she was the master of ceremonies, as one of the most talked-about wine events of last summer—and that’s because of what it brought to U.S. wine professionals’ attention. “There is such an incredible diversity of white wine styles being produced in the Rhône Valley today,” she says. “But even on a professional level, America’s top sommeliers, restaurateurs, and wine writers simply haven’t had enough access to these wines to fully understand how dynamic the landscape is. To have over 100 selections to taste in one setting was an incredible opportunity to communicate this.”

Search Rhône Valley Wines on Provi

Rhône Valley producers craft white wines that embody a fresh and lively style, alongside options that are fruity and round. There’s also attention on a rich and complex style of white wines designed for aging and cellaring, aiming to cater to a variety of consumer preferences to enrich the U.S. market. Many wine professionals already value blending as a distinct characteristic of southern Rhône Valley red wines, and believe it should naturally extend to white varieties. 

Dry rosé wines originating from the Rhône Valley also represent a significant growth opportunity. They currently make up 15 percent of total sales (higher than rosé’s nine percent share of global still wine consumption), but growth has stalled, and Inter Rhône is set to change that by, amongst other efforts, doubling volumes released for AOC Côtes du Rhône. The region is focused on two organoleptic profiles to capture the U.S. market’s attention: a fruity and delicate rosé style, characterized by its crispness, acidity, and minerality; and a fruity and full-bodied rosé, which promises a fuller body with vibrant berry and floral notes, designed to pair beautifully with a wide range of cuisines. This strategic differentiation is aimed at ensuring that Rhône Valley rosés are not just seen as seasonal pleasures but as versatile wines that can enhance any dining experience year-round.

A Resource for Wine Professionals

The comprehensive strategy to elevate the profile of Rhône Valley wines in the U.S. market is multifaceted, focusing on education, distribution, and direct industry engagement. These programs are designed to bring the essence of the Rhône Valley closer to business opportunities, utilizing educators, like Goldstein, who have garnered recognition within their markets to serve as ambassadors for the region’s wines.

In parallel with the road tour and emphasis on white and rosé wines, the strategy also facilitates connections between operators, importers, and distributors in high-potential markets. The share of exports in the Rhône Valley is still relatively low—approximately 36 percent of the total in 2021—and the objective going forward is to balance exports and national sales by pushing growth of exported volumes over the next decade. The U.S. has been designated as a priority, but this action plan for growth is part of a multi-year global drive, with over €12 million invested. In the first year of implementation alone, 8,000 professionals around the world tasted nearly 2,000 wines at some 160 events—and each of those have come away with a better understanding of the depth, versatility, and quality of Rhône Valley wines.


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