The wine-growing region lies in the east of France between Burgundy and Switzerland. It has a long wine history documented by the Roman wine writer Pliny the Elder (23-79), as evidenced by numerous Roman wine amphorae found here. Wine from this region was already very popular in the Middle Ages and one of its lovers was King Henry IV (1553-1610). It was in the town of Dôle that Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) was born and it was in the town of Arbois that he carried out his pioneering research into oxidation and fermentation. Before the phylloxera disaster, the vineyard area was more than ten times as large, at 20,000 hectares. At that time, more than 40 autochthonous grape varieties were still cultivated.
Today, the vineyards cover only about 1,900 hectares of vines between 250 and 400 metres above sea level in the Jura department of the same name. They are concentrated in a strip about ten kilometres wide, starting from Arc-et-Senans in the north to Bourg-en-Bresse in the south. South of this is the wine-growing region of Savoie, with which Jura is often considered to share a wine-growing area. The harsh, continental climate with very severe, frosty winters and changeable summers with many warm days is shaped by the Jura limestone mountains that give the region its name. Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) to the east has a moderating influence on the climate. Due to the different ripening periods of the grape varieties cultivated here, the grape harvest often extends into November.
Enrichment of the wines is common practice. White wines are produced here in 80% of cases, and most of them are matured oxidatively. The wines that are only vinified non-oxidatively in small quantities are called "Ouillé". The most important white wine varieties are Chardonnay (here also Melon d'Arbois) with almost 50% of the total area, and Naturé or Savagnin Blanc (Traminer) for the famous Vin Jaune. The most important red wine varieties are Poulsard with 20% of the total area, as well as Trousseau Noir and Pinot Noir. Besides Vin Jaune, the second great Jura speciality is Vin de paille (straw wine). The region is also very well suited to the production of sparkling wine (crémant). Only 12% of Jura wine production is exported, the large remainder is consumed by the region itself. There are around 500 producers. The appellations are: