France is the richest wine-growing land with a diversity of terroirs. Whichever cardinal point you look up at, the horizon displays new grape varieties, original viticulture methods and regional recipes that produce a unique wine. For the foreign traveler as for the French tourist who seeks to rediscover his own soil, this diversity can frighten neophytes and amateurs. There is however a traditional French specificity, originating in the East and the Rhone, which makes it possible to be freed from the doubts which can arise at the sight of such a catalog: the wine routes. The latter have existed for decades, and are originally part of the folklore of each region. They allow, through local festivals for young adults, to celebrate the land and the wine produced there by passing the participants through the most important areas of the region.
The wine route as a first experience of wine tourism
At the beginning of the craze for wine tourism, it was therefore quite logical that certain tourism operators use the layout of France’s wine routes to offer themed excursions. With the rapid development of the discipline, the other regions which did not have a traditional festival linked to a wine route used the same term to offer intelligent routes to wine tasting enthusiasts. The Alsace wine route and the Côtes du Rhône wine route were therefore joined by routes without a historic base, entirely dedicated to amateur oenologists wishing to visit other regions. There are for example:
- Wine touristic road in Provence
- A Burgundy wine route
- A Bordeaux wine route
These are the most well known, however the term is galvaude, and soon it will be possible to find a wine route in all French wine regions. Some are really designed for wine tasting and activities while others are content to offer a walking tour of the region, generally allowing you to stroll along the vineyards and the producers’ castles.
Choose your wine route according to the context
To reassure the reader, we can start with an affirmation: all routes “historic” wines are interesting to browse, and you will find on the route several possibilities of activities related to the world of the vine. Be careful however, keep in mind that the winemakers work full time, so it is necessary to book before any activity, which Winalist offers in particular. Although the grape harvest period is generally very busy for vineyard workers, most of them continue to offer discovery activities during this period.
The first route wines that you will browse can therefore be chosen according to the time in the year, and the latitude of the region concerned. Indeed, under an overwhelming August heat, it is often preferable to favor Burgundy, the course of the Pessac vineyards can prove to be a test of strength requiring a strong resistance to heat. Conversely, to fully enjoy a getaway on the Alsatian wine routes, it is best not to delay too much. The cold quickly gets more intense, which can cause you some discomfort if you are not used to the great outdoors. There are, however, tourist circuits which offer excursions to fairly advanced date beaches; indeed some brave late harvest lovers prefer to face the harshness of winter to see in action this very particular practice which makes it possible to make very sweet wine.
The richness of the wine routes is such that there are comprehensive books on each of them. Please do not hesitate to write to us with your questions, or to contact us by phone if in doubt about your selection.