Given its history, it is amazing that the Languedoc Roussillon region is becoming known as one of the world's most productive wine regions. Home to the Cathars, who believed that human life was trapped in a world created by a deity identified with Satan, the robust region was more purgatory than pleasure to the religious sect that lived and worked the land. Meat, alcohol and material possessions were forbidden --all in the name of joining God in heaven one day.
Things have changed from those early days, however. With plentiful local festivals, the renowned nude beaches along the coast and an intense love and appreciation of food and drink, the Languedoc Roussillon region has become known as a land worthy of eternal praise and solemn reverence in the wine world. Fleeing Catholic persecution, the Cathars ended up in Spain, leaving behind valuable land, ancient architecture, and a legacy as rich and storied as the wines now produced here [source: Le Breton].
Although wine production was typically limited to the churches, which used the drink during Mass, by the 18th century, France began to stake her claim as a leader in wine production. It was at this time that Bordeaux asserted itself among appellations. As vintners developed new strains of grapes and new flavors blossomed, wine became more than just a religious sacrament [source: New York Times]. It became a rite of passage into society. Today, the bullfighting, regional festivals, walking tours and architecture of the area are enjoyed by many from around the world [source: The Independent].
Read the next section to explore the region's agriculture and find out why the grapes of Languedoc Roussillon are so good.