The New Generation of Beaujolais
New York, NY, December 16, 2021 — Beaujolais has long been a hub of innovation and vision, a region filled with energetic winemakers, estate owners, and négociants who are unafraid to seek out new ways to better their land and express it more clearly in the glass. But over the past few years, Beaujolais has experienced a new wave of energy and experimentation, driven by the young vignerons who are rooting themselves in this captivating region. This new generation of Beaujolais is preparing for the region’s future through new environmental standards of farming, terroir understanding and expression, and of course, exceptional wines.
Thanks to its terroir diversity and relatively affordable land, the region of Beaujolais is no stranger to innovation. A quality-driven winemaking movement among local producers in the 1980s— largely centered around organic farming—drove new fervor in the U.S. for Beaujolais wines, particularly Cru Beaujolais, throughout the following decades.
Now, a new generational wave is sweeping across the winemakers, owners, and négociants of Beaujolais, from Beaujolais AOC wines to Beaujolais Villages and the 10 Crus. Some of these new players are the children of the region’s original pioneers, who are taking what they’ve learned from their parents and injecting their own ideas for enhancing Beaujolais’ terroir.
Others are taking over the land that once belonged to—and was carefully tended by—their parents and grandparents to make estate wines for the first time, rather than selling to local cooperatives. And then there are those next-generation Beaujolais members who are transplants, attracted from other regions thanks to Beaujolais’ culture of innovation, environmental commitment, and enviable terroir.
With this new generation has come a renewed focus on sustainable practices and a return to traditional winemaking techniques and small-batch fermentations. Some are exploring new opportunities for plantings, such as higher-altitude vineyards, or homing in on their particular terroirs with single-vineyard cuvées. Many are also placing new care and investment in white and rosé Beaujolais, as well as the region’s signature reds.
This new and exciting time in the region comes as U.S. demand for Beaujolais soars, particularly after the U.S. tariffs were ended earlier this year. Cru Beaujolais wines are no longer just insider favorites; they’ve become part of the broader American wine-drinking rotation. Industry members and consumers alike are finding new discoveries in Beaujolais AOC and Beaujolais Villages, recognizing the exceptional quality and value that these wines offer.
Scratch the surface of Beaujolais’ new generation with these three producers:
Raphaël Chopin: Centered in Lantignié, one of the most buzzed-about villages of Beaujolais Villages, Raphaël purchased his grandfather’s vines and began making wine in 2009. Using a sustainable farming and winemaking philosophy, he produces Morgon, Régnié, and Beaujolais Villages wines.
Domaine de Leyre-Loup: Since 1993, Jacques and Christophe Lanson have worked with 10 hectares of Morgon and Fleurie vines located in the crus’ best climates. The estate has a Terra Vitis certification (recognizing its sustainable farming practices) and a High Environmental Value certification (recognizing its environmental approach).
Domaine de la Grosse Pierre: After working as a sommelier, Pauline Passot returned home to Beaujolais to carry on her parents’ and grandparents’ winemaking legacies. She converted the estate’s six hectares of vines to organic farming; they are centered in Chiroubles, with small parcels in Fleurie and Morgon. Pauline uses techniques such as native yeast fermentation, minimal SO2 additions, and slow fermentations to craft expressive wines.
Beaujolais has continuously captivated American wine lovers. Thanks to the new generation of producers in the region, it’s sure to keep enthralling them for decades—and generations—to come.
About Wines of Beaujolais
From the foothills of the Massif Central to the Saone river plain, the rolling hills and plains of Beaujolais form a wine-growing area of 67 square miles. The peculiarity of this region is the unique co-existence of various terrains, microclimates, and granite soils which lend structure and depth to wines that are supple and fruity. While Beaujolais does produce a small number of white and rosé wines, the region is best known for its versatile, light to medium-bodied reds – all single-varietal and mostly made of Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc – which account for 95% of all wines produced in the region. Beaujolais is made up of 12 appellations: Beaujolais (red, white, and rosé), Beaujolais Villages (red, white, and rosé), and 10 Beaujolais Crus (reds only: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Juliénas, and Saint-Amour).