Bugey is the appellation for wines from the Ain administrative department just west of Savoie in eastern France. Although technically not included in Savoie, the Bugey vineyards are so close by that they are generally considered to be a part of the wider Savoie region. Just south of Seyssel, the western banks of the Rhone river are planted with vines producing Bugey, while the eastern bank is occupied by Savoie's Chautagne cru. It is the Rhone which separates Bugey from Savoie proper.
There are two Bugey appellations, both of which were promoted to AOC status in 2009 after 50 years as VDQS. This reclassification has fuelled the local desire to be recognized as independent from Savoie. The plain Bugey appellation covers the vast majority of red, white, rose and sparkling wines, while Roussette du Bugey is reserved specifically for still white wines made from Altesse. More than half of all Bugey wines are white. They are produced from Altesse, Molette and Chardonnay grapes, as well as the region's most widely planted variety, Jacquere. Bugey reds are made from Gamay, Pinot Noir, Poulsard (the Jura specialty) and Savoie's characteristic Mondeuse. An increasing percentage of Bugey is varietal, labeled with the variety name after the appellation title.
There are also four Bugey crus – villages which have been recognized as producing wines of particular quality and therefore entitled to append their names as part of the appellation title. Each of the crus has a particular style (or set of styles) for which it is known; the most famous is the sparkling pink wine of Cerdon. The village of Montagnieu is a cru for both the Bugey and Roussette de Bugey appellations, while the steeply sloping Manicle vineyard is like an alpine outpost of Burgundy, producing only varietal wines from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The topography and geology of Bugey is very similar to that of Savoie. The vineyards are grouped in clusters, divided from one another by various mountains and ridges which rise steeply above their corresponding valleys. The best sites are on the south-facing slopes, where the combination of cool sub-alpine air, a sunny aspect and free-draining soils provides the best chance for the grapes to achieve optimal ripeness.
The peak of Bugey's wine production was in mid-19th century, when vineyards represented one-quarter of the area's agricultural production. At that time, the commune of Belley alone was home to around 17,000 acres (7000ha) of vines. The arrival of phylloxera in the 1860s decimated wine production here, as it did across Savoie and in Jura to the north. Statistics from the 2005 vintage show that vine plantings are now increasing again, although they still amount to only around 1235 acres (500ha). The local consumer base is well-established and only a very small percentage of the wine ever leaves the region. However, the United States is a growing market for both Bugey's wines and those of the wider Savoie region.