Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town offers stunning views of vineyards and beautiful examples of architecture from ancient times to modern day.
Saint-Émilion is world-renowned for its red wines, specifically their Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Due to the variety of different soils in the area, this appellation is said to offer the most diverse range of wine styles in the Bordeaux region. Wines from this town can range from light and fruity—with grapes grown in sandy soils—to richer and darker tastes due to the clay and limestone in the earth.
The beginning of the wine tradition in this town dates back to the Ancient Romans, earning Saint-Émilion the title of the oldest wine producing appellation in the Bordeaux region. Decimus Magnus Ausonius, a famous Roman poet and namesake of the Château Ausone, lived in this region and wrote about the bountiful fruit and the delicious wine it created. You can see examples of ancient architectural ruins from this period throughout the town.
The town did not carry the name “Saint-Émilion”, however, until much later. In the 8th century, a monk named Émilion fled persecution in his Brittany homeland and settled in a hermitage amongst the natural limestone caves in the area. From there, Émilion gained a following by performing small miracles, and the town grew up around him as more people flocked to the region. With this influx, the construction of the town began, including the beginnings of what is now a massive, monolithic cathedral.