Wine is made along almost the entire length of the river, although the widely available examples are from the northern part of the valley. Only the Central Vineyards, source of the famous wines of Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre, lie upstream of Orléans.
As a northerly grape-growing region, one generalisation that does stand is that the wines always have a backbone of refreshing acidity. Another is that, while large co-operatives do exist, there are thousands of small growers producing fascinating products showing off the best the region can produce. Finally, while the region went through a dip in the 1980s, the past 15 years has seen a resurgence of quality with individual winemakers striving for quality and individualism.
Most Loire wines are white, from the crisp, almost salty Muscadets of the coastal strip to the rich Chenin Blancs of Anjou Saumur and the aromatic Sauvignon Blancs of the Central Vineyards. These wines are not replicated anywhere else in the world (although many have tried) and complement food as well as any other wine.
Pockets of red wine are made in Anjou and Touraine too, chiefly from the Cabernet Franc grape variety, as well as sparkling wines made by the champagne method, and sweet wines in Vouvray and the Côteaux du Layon. Finally, rosés made either dry or appealingly medium-dry are easily found.