You can find this article on the Official Tour Guide website.
Domestic and international tourism have a significant impact on the French economy: home to world-famous sites, France is the world’s most visited country. “Paris, Ville de Lumière”, the City of Light and the City of Love, its magnificent Louvres or luxurious Champs Elysées, but also its lively small cafés where you can enjoy gorgeous pastries… But we also have an incredible diversity of landscapes in France: the mediterranean shores, the atlantic coast, mountains, cities or countryside are attractive places to visit. Loire Valley and Provence especially are the two main “country sidish” areas. Besides, lots of tourists travel across France to reach Spain and Italy.
Not forgetting French food and wine which are widely exported all over the world!
“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”Benjamin Franklin
Should there be a difference between culinary tourism and adventure tourism? (Well, obviously culinary tourism is tastier,)!!! Indeed, you will need a great spirit of adventure to discover food and wine from a place that you don’t know!
It is my pleasure to be your guide through the adventure !
In the world, different style of winetourisms exist. I will use the terminology of Per Karlsson from BKWine. In my opinion, it’s really clever and realistic:
- Open-Door Wine tourism
- Disneyland Wine tourism
- Eventification Wine tourism
Let’s talk about them and give some examples in Bordeaux.
Open-Door Wine tourism is also a synonymous of “cellar door”. It’s, I think, the most classic wine tourism we can meet. It’s when a winery is open to public and welcomes guests to visit the facilities (vineyards, vats room and barrels cellar). The tour regularly ends with a tasting. Almost all the wineries propose this simple but efficient Wine tourism.
Here are my best Open-Door wineries:
Château Carbonnieux – This winery is located on the left bank of the Gironde estuary in Pessac Léognan and both red and white wines are Graves Grand Cru Classé. It’s one of the oldest wineries of Bordeaux as they have proof of a vineyard in 1234! The building is superb, and the visit is very nice. You will start with the history of the Château, a little stroll in the vineyard (depending on the weather), the visit of the facilities with the underground red wine barrels cellar. Then, you will also be able to see the white wine barrels roombefore discovering a very unique collection: antique cars! Finally, you will walk past the memory cellar to reach the tasting room. The Château Carbonnieux has got very fruity and complex wines. No wonder Thomas Jefferson came to Bordeaux in 1787 and enjoyed the wines of the property. I dare you to recognize the Pecan tree planted by Jefferson in the park almost 200 years ago
Château Cantenac Brown – Located on the left bank of the estuary in Margaux wine area, this Grand Cru Classé is one of my favourite. The architecture of the château is stunning: Mister Brown’s grandfather was originated from Scotland, so he decided to build a Tudor style Château during the XIXth century. You will discover the unique terroir of this winery in front of their vines before touring around the incredible winery. After this little fresh air walk, you will discover the vats room and then the barrels cellar. The visit will end with a tasting !
Château Petit Village – It’s small but so cute! Indeed, the winery is in Pomerol, so the size of the vineyard is nothing compared to the vineyards in Médoc. But it’s so nice. You will start the visit outside to discover the estate before reaching inside. A little tour on the first floor to understand how the harvests are working and then you will go back down to admire the concrete vats and the small barrels room. The tasting will take place in a very nice room with a view on the vineyard. Château Petit Village wines are very deep in color and also in aromas. They are very fruity and velvety.
Edutainement is fairly interesting. More and more tourists are seeking for a mix of education and entertainment. It offers not “just” a visit, but more complex activities like the organization of a blending session, a cooking class, a chocolate and wine master class, a horse riding in the vineyard… The experience is more immersive, often beyond what the guests would imagine. It is not only being a spectator, it is also being an actor of the wine tour.
Here are my best Edutainement wineries:
Château Phelan Segur – Probably one of my favorite edutainement for food amateurs / lovers! Indeed, the winery has its own Chef, which is quite unusual. So, what will you prefer? A tour and a cooking class or a tour and a pastry class or a tour and a lunch? The Grand Cru Classé is located in Saint Estèphe and the experience is marvelous. Besides, the Château has been very nicely renovated. To my mind, the Chef is quite gifted!
Château Rayne Vigneau – In Sauternes, the wineries need to make a difference. It’s clearly the case of this 1st Grand Cru Classé. If you want some adventure, it’s the place to go. Indeed, they propose a blending session for their sweet wines but also very different activities. The estate likes originality: so will be appealed by their blending session but also the stroll in the vineyard with horses, the sweet escape game, the microlight (plane ULM) visit or the tasting on a tree top!
Atelier B-winemaker – Created by the famous Bernard Magrez (owner of more than 40 wineries in the world), it’s an incredible blending session you can experience in his wineries. Indeed, after visiting Château Pape Clément in Pessac Léognan, Château Fombrauge in Saint Emilion or Château La Tour Carnet in Médoc, you will be able to create your own wine! In front of you, several samples of wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot…) and also some winemaker’s tools like a measuring cylinder or a funnel! Once you have created your blend, you will put it in your bottle, insert the cork, put the caps and create your own label before sticking it on your own bottle! So, you will be back home with your own wine…
Disneyland Wine tourism is not what you might think of! Indeed, it’s not negative. It represents multi-task? Châteaux which are at the same time a winery, a hotel and a restaurant for example. This is the most classical combo. I could say that it’s like a Ganesh Wine tourism: more than one string to its bow. It’s a type of Wine tourism which is widely developed in the New World but not really in France and in Bordeaux… But, it is developing, and it actually is very nice to be able to visit a winery, taste their wines, enjoy a lunch in their vineyards and even sleep at the Château…
My best Disneyland wineries :
Château Smith Haut Lafitte – It’s probably the most famous one. Château Smith Haut Lafitte is a Grand Cru Classé of Graves located in Pessac Léognan. The Cathiard family opened a palace,”Les Sources de Caudalie”, just in front of the winery. Moreover, they have a 2* restaurant, a bistrot restaurant and a bar if you want to eat on the go. And that’s not all… They also created the famous brand Caudalie which is a range of cosmetics made from grapes. You can imagine the beautiful spa in this hotel in the middle of the vineyards. It’s super high luxury.
Château Maucaillou – This winery is located in the area of Médoc wine and it’s a Cru Bourgeois owned by a very old wine merchant family. Before starting the visit of the winery, you will be able to discover their museum. It’s very interesting for those who like history and want to learn about how people used to make wine back in time. The trail is very well done as you have several subjects like the cork, the glass bottle, the ageing… you can also have lunch in the winery which is pretty cool.
Château Lafaurie Peyraguey – Located in Sauternes wine area, the Château Lafaurie Peyraguey is a 1st Grand Cru Classé dating from 1855. The new owner, Silvio Denz, is also the owner of Lalique crystals. In 2018, after huge renovations, the Château was reopened. Today, you will be able to sleep in their marvelous hotel***** and have lunch at the 1* restaurant with a stunning view on the vineyards. For sure, the visit of the winery is possible: you will learn about the history, the terroir, you will discover the barrels room with the beautiful Lalique crystal barrel and at the end, you will taste the wines of the Château.
Eventification Wine tourism concerns all the events, festival around food and wine. It can be a one shot, or it can be recurrent. Indeed, Wine tourism is not always inside a winery. eventification is a way to promote wine, food, culture, terroir outside of the vineyards. It’s very nice especially for people who are not really into wine and will not necessarily book a Wine tour. It allows a bigger community to enjoy and to learn about the wineries.
My best Eventification are following:
- Bordeaux Fête le Vin – This celebration of wine is probably THE wine festival of Bordeaux which is back every 2 years on the Moon Harbor. Indeed, on our beautiful UNESCO classified quays, you will be able to discover 80 local wine appellations which will have ephemeral wine stands held by winegrowers for 4 days. Thanks to a pass, you will be able to do 11 tastings (for 21 euros). If it’s really about wine (tastings, master classes, workshops…), you will also have the opportunity to eat and to discover our patrimony thanks to food and culture booths. To finish, beautiful sailing ships will berthed in the harbor and some will propose cruises on the river Garonne and fireworks will pop in the sky every night at 11pm! This year 2020, Belgium is the honor guest and Philippe Gelück, a cartoonist creator of “Le Chat” (The Cat), will be there as 20 monumental sculptures of the “Chat”. *We just have learned the event will be done in 2021 due to the Coronavirus situation.
- Margaux Saveurs – This year will be the 12thedition. Every November, the wine area of Margaux welcomes wine and food lovers for a very special week end. It’s kids friendly so families can join to discover the wine universe in a very educative way. They also have some musical animations, farmer markets and local craftsmen. It’s a nice way to promote the wines from Margaux.
- Bordeaux Tasting – Organized by the French magazine Terre de Vins, is a nice wine rendez-vous every year in Bordeaux during wintertime. For 2 days (week-end), thousands of people will reach the Palais de la Bourse downtown Bordeaux to taste several Bordeaux wines but also spirits (Cognac), Champagne and even foreign wines or take part in several master classes which are organized. You will be able to enjoy this festival with a Riedel glass and a little notebook.
So, which is your favorite type of Wine tourism? Of course you may be keen on several ones. It really depends onthe style of the wine tourist you are! Because yes / indeed, several terminologies qualify wine tourists : epicureans, conventionals, explorators and experts. But anyway, what is most important is to enjoy every minute of your journey in the world of wine and to leave the vineyards with a little twinge !