At the generic level, the official AOC Côtes du Rhône region stretches 200 km from Vienne in the north to Avignon in the south and from the foothills of the Massif Central in the west to the fore-slopes of the Vaucluse and Luberon mountains east of the town of Orange. 171 communes in the French departments of Ardèche, Bouches du Rhône, Drôme, Gard, Loire, and Vaucluse are concerned with production from the 83,839 (2008) hectares of vineyard. The average yield is 52 hectolitres per hectare. Wines of all three colours must have a minimum alcohol content of 11%. The average annual production of CDR of around 3.3 million hectolitres – 419 million bottles – (2005/2006), is assured by 5,292 concerns including 5,202 growers, 875 private producers, 70 co-operative wineries, and 20 merchant/producers and blenders, making it one of the largest single appellation regions in the world.
Red and rosé wines are made from Grenache noir, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignane, Counoise and Mourvèdre grapes varieties. A maximum of 20% white varieties may be used in the rosés. All reds grown south of Montélimar must contain a minimum of 40% Grenache, and may contain up to 5% white grapes. A red from anywhere in the appellation must contain a minimum of 15% Syrah and/or Mourvedre.
The whites must contain a minimum blend of 80% Clairette, Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, and Viognier. Ugni blanc and Picpoul blanc may be used as secondary varieties.