France is the hub of many beautiful wines we all love and enjoy! The varieties are endless, from a Merlot to a classic Chardonnay and even Champagne. In this article, you will learn how to plan a wine-tasting trip to France best and most efficiently!
Planning a wine-tasting trip to France may not be as easy as it may seem, but if you follow the rules well, it can also be a cakewalk. While planning a wine-tasting trip to France, a few essential details must be kept in mind, like the best time to visit, the best region, and selecting the right wineries.
France is heaven for anyone who loves exploring new types of wines. Sure, many regions in the world offer lovely classy wines. However, France is the birthplace of so many classics. For this reason, France is the hub for wine tourism.
Along with the country’s history and lovely food, this is just as much an essential part of their tourism. You can expect a lot of people, and the winemakers take time from their schedule to show tourists around.
For this reason, planning a wine-tasting trip well in advance is essential to ensure that you stick by all the rules and get the most out of it in the time frame. Here, you will get a lovely and complete guide on planning a fantastic wine-tasting trip, along with some tips and tricks that will help you make your experience even better!
What’s The Best Time To Visit France For A Wine Tasting Tour?
Before we get to the details of how to plan this exceptional experience, it is essential to be as thorough with the basics as possible. One of the most important things while planning a wine-tasting tour is always to prepare it at the right time.
For various reasons, Taking a wine tour at any time of the year may not be as fruitful as you would expect. Here, you will also have to figure out if you want to see the first growth and do a tasting accordingly, see the harvest, or if just any time of the year is exemplary.
In most cases, the best time to visit France for a wine-tasting tour is always from March to June and then again from October to November. The end of the year and early months can be too cold to get a good experience.
But, if you want to see the harvest of grapes for the wine, then September is a good time to visit. However, remember that most winemakers are extremely busy at this time, so getting an appointment at most wineries will take a lot of work.
To get a good tour of the estates around the first harvest, it is best to go at the end of July, as August tends to be holiday time for many, and the estates could be crowded. Similarly, if you would like to try the wine made with the first growths, it would be better to plan much earlier in advance since there tend to be too many appointments around that time.
What Region In France Is Best For Wines?
There are so many regions in France that produce lovely wine. Most of these regions produce wines that are very different from each other, which also makes the whole wine-tasting tour pretty exciting.
Plenty of regions produce great wines, but here you will find a list of some of the best parts, along with information on the sort of wines they have.
- Burgundy – This is one of France’s most famous wine-producing regions, and also has UNESCO world heritage recognition! In this region of France, you will find red and white wines, where the red ones are usually made with pinot noir grapes and the white ones with chardonnay.
- Bordeaux – This is another well-known wine-growing region in France and also the largest one! Bordeaux is known for its well-made red wines, made with merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc grapes.
- Provence – We will talk a lot more about Provence later on, as it is a well-known but slightly underrated wine-producing region in France. They are mainly known for making delicious Rose wines.
- Champagne – This is the only region in the world that makes delicious sparkling wine and is allowed to use the name Champagne for the same!
- Rhone Valley – This area of France is well known for spicy red blends, which typically incorporate Syrah grapes, while blossomy whites are based on viognier grapes.
- Alsace – This wine-producing area in France is especially famous for its lovely variety of delicious white wines.
- Loire Valley – This area is well known for its sheer variety of wines, ranging from delicious reds to delicate white wines.
Based on the style of wine you are most intrigued by and would like to taste right away, you can plan your wine-tasting trip in France.
Steps Of How To Plan A Wine-Tasting Trip To France
This section will discuss some steps to help you plan your trip to France for a wine-tasting tour. These steps will make the whole process much more manageable. However, since France has so many areas producing lovely wines, we will discuss how to plan a trip to Provence in the south of France.
This region has received less attention than some of the other areas! Once you know how to plan a trip to Provence, the rest of the steps stay identical for all regions.
1. Understanding Provence: A Wine Lover’s Paradise
Before understanding all about wine production in Provence, here is an overview of what the region in France is all about. Provence in France is a region in the south of France, rightly placed between Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. This is also the sunniest region in France.
The area is full of vineyards and lovely villages but also packed with beautiful lavender fields and has the perfect climate for outdoor activities all year round. Due to its weather conditions and everything that follows, the region also has rich soil.
This soil is perfect for growing grapes to produce wine. Provence is also France’s oldest vineyard and most popularly known for its delicious Rose. About 88% of the wine production in Provence is dedicated to the production of Rose!
The most popular brands of roses come from this region. Provencal vineyards are also vast, spread over 200 km. It has about 450 estates, cellars, and wines with AOC and AOP labels. So some of the best roses you have tried until now were probably made in Provence!
2. Determining Your Travel Preferences
After knowing all about Provence, it would be much easier to figure out how to travel there. Luckily, despite where you are traveling from, access to Provence is pretty straightforward. Firstly, you must fly to Paris unless you travel from the United Kingdom or any other European country.
There are several ways to travel from Paris to Provence, from trains to flights, and even driving there yourself! Keeping all this in mind can help you figure out the best way to get to Provence and how you would travel within the region once you get there.
Not just that, but also try to look for reasonable accommodation in the area. The best way to know this is by booking with a wine tour agent, who can help you figure out the best stays around the vineyards, making things much more accessible while planning your trip.
3. Selecting Vineyards and Wineries
After you are done making your travel plans to get to Provence, you can begin planning the vineyards and wineries you would like to see in the area. Provence is a vast area; hence, there are too many vineyards to choose from.
It is best to consider your travel plans and move forward. If you have already decided on accommodation but need to know how to move around, looking for vineyards in the same vicinity would be best.
Luckily, Provence has a lot of vineyards and wineries to choose from, which makes this process a lot easier. Lastly, prebook your vineyard tours once you are done selecting to avoid any rush or cancellation later on.
4. Creating Your Itinerary
After you make all your bookings and figure out where you will be staying, you can create an itinerary. Here, make sure to cram only a little into a brief period.
Wine tasting in Provence is a whole experience that cannot be rushed. As much as you would like to visit every vineyard possible, it is impossible to do so while enjoying a lovely wine tasting.
So, the best way to go about wine-tasting tours in Provence is to select just two for a day. Limiting your itinerary to two vineyards or cellars daily will make your wine-tasting experience much more worthwhile!
5. Exploring Provence’s Wine Routes
Once everything is more well-planned and you have your itinerary ready for the trip, you only have to explore the wine routes! With everything prepared, including things like who will drive around while exploring the wine routes.
Moreover, while you drive through Provence to see the vineyards, you will come across the authentic countryside of Southern France. You will explore a lot, from beautiful vineyards to lavender fields and villages, while going around Provence’s wine routes!
6. Enhancing Your Wine-Tasting Experience
Of course, you would be traveling to Provence for a wine-tasting tour. But, if you have some extra time, you can explore so much more in Provence, which will surely enhance your wine-tasting experience.
Besides history walks and picturesque outdoors, Provence also has some of the best food. The local food from Provence, like their local goat cheese and freshly made pastries, is lovely to pair with wines and enhance your experience even more!
7. Immersing Yourself In Provence’s Culture And Cuisine
Think of this wine-tasting trip as an opportunity to see what Provence is about. As mentioned earlier, the food in Provence is undoubtedly worth taking advantage of! They have some of the best fresh cheese, seafood dishes, and French pastries.
If you love trying new food, you will surely love everything about Provence. If not, the following recommendation would be to look at historical places and see how the local people live there to get an authentic experience of Provence and enjoy your trip even more!
Some Practical Tips For A Successful Wine-Tasting Trip
Along with all the planning, a few other tips must be kept in mind to ensure that you don’t face any issues during your trip. These are very important and mainly adhere to how the locals expect tourists to behave.
- Limit yourself to just two vineyards in a day and take your time with the owner of a vineyard, in case you have too much planned.
- Don’t drink and drive; spit the wine out if you are the one driving.
- If you have an appointment, try arriving on time at any vineyard.
- Be polite with the owner and other people at the winery.
- Use proper wine-tasting techniques while tasting.
- Buy a bottle.
- Talk to the locals and explore; they would love to tell you more!
Are Wine Tastings Free In France?
Of course, quite a few places may charge a decent price to see their vineyards and wineries, but some places might not. These places do a complimentary wine tasting as well. So, is free wine tasting a norm all over France?
Wine tastings are free almost everywhere in France, including Provence. However, the intent of complimentary wine tasting at most vineyards is to offer the same as they expect the customers to buy a few bottles of wine. If not too many, most winery owners would like their visitors to buy at least one bottle of wine.
Wine tasting in France is a surreal experience that every wine enthusiast must try at least once in their lifetime. Depending on the wine you like the most, you can plan to visit the region that excites you the most.
Other than that, as long as proper steps are taken with planning, the trip will be smooth sailing. Along with all that, it is also important to respect what the winemakers would want, and your trip will surely be an experience that you will remember forever!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it worth taking wine-tasting trips to France?
Going for wine-tasting trips in France is a truly surreal experience!
Why does France have so many vineyards?
France has a lot of vineyards and wineries since the country has the perfect temperature and soil for the wine grapes to grow.
When is the best time to go on a wine-tasting trip to France?
The best time to visit France for wine tasting is between March and June or October to November.
Is it necessary to buy a wine bottle from every winery you visit?
It is optional. However, since most wineries offer free tasting, buying at least one bottle of wine is mainly considered polite.