France and wine are synonymous. There's no other place where the natural soil conditions, climate, and topography are as suited to growing such an array of grapes. Vines were brought to France by the Greeks back in 600 B.C. and, until the mid-19th century, French wine vineyards were successful in creating French wines unsurpassed in quality. During the Middle Ages France was already exporting good French wines to its neighbors, particularly Great Britain, and by the 1700s French wine was traded worldwide. Between 1850 and 1970, French wine vineyards experienced one set-back after another - disease, political conflict, war - and wine-making became limited to a few surviving vineyards. French wine began thriving again in the 1970s as a result of new technology and research in viticulture. In the phenomenal expansion of wine-making throughout the world, it's been the grapes of France and French viticulture which others have chosen for their vineyards. French wine remains the gold standard.