Five vineyards to visit in France 16 October 2015 by Jessica Boston
Five vineyards to visit in France
If you don’t know much about wine and don’t speak very good French the idea of following one of those tempting roadside signs offering wine tasting and tours at local vineyards might seem a bit intimidating.
Of course in most cases you’ll get a warm welcome and language won’t be a barrier to trying and buying some great value wines right at their source, so go on, be brave!
If you’re still not convinced and would rather dip your toes in the world of French wine with a guarantee of a friendly, English-speaking winemaker we’ve got the answer! Here are five producers who provide the perfect vineyard experience for any visitor from wine expert to enthusiastic novice.
Chateau Lestevenie, Gageac-et-Rouillac, Dordogne
Chateau Lestevenie is a beautiful, family-run vineyard that offers tours, wine tasting and the opportunity to buy their wines all year round. September and October are particularly interesting times to visit as you’ll get to see the grape harvest.
The vineyard produces rose, red and white wines from a mix of grape varieties. The 40 hectares of grape vines are carefully managed to encourage wildlife and include older vines over 65 years old as well as new growth to create the right balance of flavours for their award winning wines.
Sue and Humphrey own and run Chateau Lestevenie and they are both passionate about their wines and the landscape they come from. During the tour you’ll find out lots of fascinating details about how the wine is made and see real processes taking place in the growing, harvest, processing and fermentation of the wines depending on the time of year.
Humphrey is dedicated to protecting and supporting local wildlife and wild plants and his tour also shows you the beautiful wild flowers and rare orchids that thrive in meadows amongst the vines thanks to his gentle approach to farming here.
The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed and you can spend a few hours discovering the vineyard and tasting wines. If it’s rainy waterproofs and umbrellas are provided, if you turn up unannounced you’ll be welcomed in, if you have children with you they’ll be entertained by Beano the dog and have a chance to meet the chickens and stroke the horses – everyone is made to feel at home!
These lovely hosts offer an insight into the nuances of growing the different grape varieties and the intentions behind the wine flavours as you enjoy a tasting. They enjoy sharing their knowledge and the wines they are so proud of with their visitors. You’ll arrive a guest and leave as a friend (just be sure to take a case of wine or two with you so you can reminisce about this gorgeous place when you’re back in grey old England!).
Sue Temperley writes the Wine and Wildlife blog.