The area of Cognac, France is known around the globe for its vineyards, wineries, and distilleries. Vineyards in Cognac dot hillsides throughout the region, and many offer world-class tours of their facilities. Touring a Cognac vineyard, tasting wine in a Cognac winery, or even visiting a chateau through an experience booked through Winalist’s platform makes Cognac an unforgettable experience.
Many of our partners’ tours offer unique ways to learn about the history of French winemaking in one of the most popular regions in France. Learn more below about Cognac wineries and distilleries, how to travel to Cognac, and why Cognac is such a memorable experience for those traveling to France.
What is Cognac wine?
Cognac is a type of brandy that is produced in the Charente region of France. This type of wine is made from white grapes grown in the Cognac region of France and aged in oak barrels for at least 2 years and up to 100 years.
Cognac gets its distinct flavor from its region's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean as well as its uniquely maritime climate. Cognac wine is created using three steps: fermentation, distillation, and aging (a process known as maturation).
Where is Cognac located in France?
Cognac is located in the Charente wine region of France. The Atlantic Ocean borders it on the west side. The region is also bordered by the Poitou region to the south and stretches between two rivers: La Charente and La Gironde. With a population of around 400,000 people, this area boasts a history and culture that is deeply rooted in winemaking traditions.
About Cognac Wine Tasting
Cognac wine tours are a great way to discover the best vineyards in this unique region of France. Winalist offers a variety of different itineraries, depending on your preferences. If you want to taste cognac and enjoy beautiful scenery, we recommend one of our partners’ wine and city tours that include tastings at local vineyards. If you’re more interested in tasting wines from specific winemakers and learning about their methods, you can choose one of our private tours with an expert sommelier who will guide you through cellars and explain how local winemakers distill products that are so unique.
On any of these tours, you may see rolling hills, roman architecture, and quaint cities. You can also expand your knowledge with an excursion around town in any one of Cognac’s local cities; Winalist has small group walking tours on its platform that take visitors through downtown Cognac while explaining its history and architecture before visiting places where they can sample fine wines from top producers like Hennessy or Courvoisier (or even try cognac liqueurs made by local distillers).
While tasting wine in Cognac, be sure to try Pineau des Charentes, an aperitif made from grapes that must mixed with eau-de-vie before being aged in oak barrels.
How to get to the Cognac Region of France
From Paris: You can take a train from Paris to Bordeaux. The trip takes around 2 hours one way. From Bordeaux, you can take a taxi or rent a car to get to Cognac.
From London: There are direct flights between London Heathrow and Bordeaux airport, which is just 40 km away from Cognac. Once in Bordeaux, it's an easy drive south to Cognac by car or taxi if necessary.
From Marseille: There are direct flights between Marseille Provence Airport in southern France and Bordeaux Airport almost daily. These flights take about 50 minutes each way, with easy connections through Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport before arriving at Bordeaux Airport.
If you’re still wondering how it might be best to get to the Provence region of France, reach out to Winalist or your chosen wine experience.
The Wine Routes in Cognac
There are two primary wine routes in Cognac. The first course, “Le Cognac et la vigne” introduces you to the culture of wine in Cognac. Leaving from Saintes, it passes through Saint-Jean d'Angely, Burie, Cognac and Aigre. Still departing from Saintes, the second wine route takes you to Angoulême via Jarnac and Châteauneuf-sur-Charente along the Charente.
Charente Maritime, Angoulême, Saintes, and the city of Cognac are among the essential metropolitan visits in the region. Here, you’ll discover various cognac houses and have the chance to pick up tips from the wine-growing know-how of these concentrated regions. Throughout the year, the grandest houses in Cognac welcome you for various visits and tastings (Martell, Henessy, etc.). Crossing the many villages with Romanesque architecture on your wine route, you will find on your way many more confidential winegrowers, mainly producing white wine from Ugni Blanc and Colombard grape varieties.
History of Winemaking Cognac, France
Winemaking in Cognac started when the Dutch arrived in France. These groups bought plenty of wine, but it often wouldn’t remain drinkable on voyages back home. So, the Dutch began distilling wine in this region in the 16th century. In 1556, King Henry II founded the city of Cognac and ordered vineyards to be planted in the area. The first planting of vines occurred in 1589 when local farmers were encouraged to grow grapes to make brandy. In the 18th century, the first Cognac Houses were officially established.