While the words sound very similar, there is a difference between the terms “vigneron” and “vintner.” If you look up the term vigneron in the dictionary, the definition will be “a person who cultivates grapes for winemaking.” Basically, a vigneron is a person who actually works out in the vineyard, growing the grapes.

Winemakers in certain countries, such as France, who work the vineyards and also make wine, have taken to calling themselves vignerons in order to express that while they are winemakers, at the end of the day, they truly consider themselves farmers. This is due to the belief that all great wine starts in the vineyard. These winemakers believe the only way to make truly great wine is to farm the grapes you intend to use. Therefore, over time we have seen the simple definition of the term evolve to mean both one who cultivates grapes for winemaking, and one who cultivates grapes for winemaking and makes the wine themselves.

The term vintner, on the other hand, has two different meanings. Outside of North America it’s a term most often used for one who sells wine. Inside North America it is most often used as a term for winemaker. The difference between vintner and vigneron in this case is that a vintner makes the wine but does not have involvement in farming the grapes, whereas a vigneron cultivates the grapes and may also make the resulting wine.

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