The Loire is France's longest river and gives its name to an extensive wine-growing region covering some 70,000 hectares. It rises at Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc in the Massif Central and initially flows north, passing through Roanne and Nevers, among other places. At Orléans, it changes direction to the west, flows through Blois, Tours, Saumur, Angers and Nantes and finally flows into the Atlantic at Saint-Nazaire. On its journey of a good 1,000 kilometres, it crosses 13 départements, six of which are in turn named after it.
On both sides of the Loire and along many of its tributaries such as Cher, Indre, Vienne, Layon, Loir, Sarthe, Endre and Maine lie the vineyards that comprise a total of 69 appellations: 54 controlled designations of origin (AOC = Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) and 15 designations of origin for higher quality wines from limited production areas (AOVDQS = Appellation d'Origine Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure). Wines without a restricted appellation of origin bear the protected geographical indication (IGP = Indication Géographique Protégée) Val de Loire.