Two major geological formations coexist in Provence – crystalline and limestone rock masses. The entire northwest portion of Provence's vineyards are comprised of alternating hills and rocky hogbacks that have been sculpted by erosion. This area includes remarkable sites such as the Sainte-Victoire and the Sainte-Baume Mountain chains, and the Gorges of Verdon. Further East, near the sea, the Maures and Tanneron crystalline rock masses emerge. The landscape is much different from those further north. Foothills and small mountains with gentler slopes, covered with shrubbery and woodlands, abound in this region. Moving further East, between Saint-Tropez and Cannes, the crystalline rock mass is broken up by former eruptions of many astonishing rock formations, such as the colored porphyries of the Estérel Massif.

Le Terroir des vins de provence


Two types of plant communities correspond to these two geologic formations: the "garrigue" (scrublands) on limestone soils and the "maquis" (shrubs) on crystalline soils. Neither plant community is able to provide any noteworthy amounts of humus to the soil. In general, soils in Provence's winegrowing regions are poor, well drained but often susceptible to erosion. The shallow fields with no excess humidity are perfectly adapted to a Mediterranean plant such as the grape vine.


Sun exposure is the most predominant characteristic of Provence's climate, with 2700 to 2900 hours of sunshine per year. The summers are particularly hot, but the diversity of the mountainous landscape results in high variations over short distances. As is normally the case with Mediterranean climates, Provence receives the majority of its rainfall – often in violent storms – during the autumn and springtime. The summers are hot and dry, often with searing heat further inland on days without wind.


The many different winds in Provence are an integral part of the region's climate. The strongest and most well known wind is of course the Mistral. Icy cold in the winter after having sped across the Alpine snows, it can also be refreshing during the long hot summer months. Although it can be violent and capricious, the Mistral does nonetheless have one noteworthy quality that is important for Provence's vineyards: it is extremely dry, which protects the vines from illnesses caused by excess humidity.

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