Harvesting and blending with an organic winemaker in Occitanie
Ever wanted to peek behind the scenes of a working vineyard? Follow in the footsteps of a winemaker in Occitanie! At the Domaine d'Anglas, 30 minutes from Montpellier, Roger, a fourth generation wine producer, takes you on a tour of the 12-hectare, Ecocert-labelled vineyards, the cellar and the 100 year-old winery. In the autumn, you can even pick up a pair of pruning shears and discover manual harvesting. To learn the art of blending wines, head to Château de Chamberd in the Lot, one of the few biodynamic estates in the Cahors appellation. When it comes to local gourmet dishes, create your own blend with the support of an expert. Castigno in the Languedoc is an authentic ‘wine resort’ with a castle and village where you can enjoy a gastronomic one-starred Michelin meal, washed down with an organic house wine from Saint-Chinian.
Take a slow stroll through the vineyards in the Loire Valley
Nothing beats a spot of slow tourism when it comes to visiting vineyards. In the Loire Valley between Tours and Chinon, explore the vineyards of the Nicolas Paget estate and the forest of Chinon. Hop on a Segway or electric scooter for your tour followed by a tasting of the house wines: AOC Touraine, AOC Chinon and AOC Touraine Azay Le Rideau - all of them organic. Afterwards enjoy a feast worthy of Rabelais, the famous Renaissance writer and epicurean son of the Loire Valley. Taste fouaces (small bread rolls) with local products such as goat milk cheeses of Touraine or poires tapées (dried pears) of Rivarennes in the traditional tuffeau limestone cellars... It’s the perfect way to pair slow food and slow wine!
Take a wellness course in the Bordeaux region
A visit to the Bordeaux region can be a chance to relax and recharge your batteries in the vineyards. At Château Monconseil Gazin, just 5 minutes from the town of Blaye, Guy, a martial arts teacher, offers Tai Chi Chuan sessions to help refine the senses through proper breathing. Meanwhile, put your sense of taste and smell to the test with Terra Vitis house wines! At the Château du Payre, Valérie is the fifth generation of women owners, and she cares passionately about the environment. Combine sophrology and aromatherapy with a ‘Sophrowine’ session in the park followed by a tasting of the house wines. And to complete the experience, enjoy an exclusive treatment which combines natural spring water and the virtues of the vine and grapes at the Vinothérapie® Spa at Les Sources de Caudalie, where you can bathe in a barrel or red wine or indulge in a merlot body wrap.
Discover the secrets of biodynamic agriculture in Alsace
Did you know that herbal teas could help care for vines? On the Alsace wine route, discover the secrets of biodynamic cultivation in the vineyards. At Domaine Jean Becker, pioneers of organic farming and wine producers since 1610, you can find out about the geology of the soil by walking through the Grand Cru Foehn. Before tasting great vintages and organic dishes, discover how the mysterious ‘cow horn dung’ and ‘horn silica’ help strengthen the vines defences, as do herbal teas! At Achillée, where since 2003 they have been using biodynamic methods, you can visit the largest straw-made building in Europe, a bio-climatic cellar. And at Domaine Sohler, enjoy a delicious summer dinner in the heart of the vineyards. And, did you know that biodynamics is inspired by the cycles of the moon?
Culture in the vineyards of Provence
At Château La Coste, tasting reaches the level of art! At this 200-hectare estate at the gateway to Aix-en-Provence, the cellar was designed by Jean Nouvel, the music pavilion by Franck O. Ghery, and several great names in architecture and contemporary art have sown their monumental works throughout the 125 hectares of the organically grown vines. You’ll spot works by Louise Bourgeois and Sean Scully as you peruse the wines of the certified Côteaux d'Aix-en-Provence estate. And be inspired by Philippe Pasqua's sculptures which blossom in the shade of neighbouring Château La Gaude’s biodynamic vineyard.
Awaken your senses in Champagne
Fairy tale Champagne! At the Domaine de Mondeville Champagne Dumont, wander between the vineyards and the forest of Clairvaux for a new sensory experience. Join an interactive treasure hunt, take a night-time walk to spot birds and reptiles or a gourmet discovery of truffles of Champagne... Indulge all five senses and discover the domain’s organic and biodynamically produced champagnes. At Domaine Apollonis, which has a ‘High Environmental Value’ classification, listen out because in some vineyards music is played and in the cellar the Champagne matures to the sound of Beethoven's Symphony No 6 – the Pastoral Symphony! Meanwhile in the salon of Maison Drappier house, enjoy the anecdotes of the master of the house, who, at 95 years old, is the sixth generation of winegrowers. Then explore the Cistercian cellars dug into the annex of the Abbey of Clairvaux abbey!
Savour the French art of living in Burgundy
Fancy travelling along the legendary Burgundy wine route in an iconic car? It really is a great way to celebrate the French art of the good life! In partnership with The French Tour, the Château de Pommard offers a ride in a 2CV which includes a tasting of six vintages of its famous wines of Clos Marey-Monge Monopole, as well as an introduction to the principles of biodynamics. At the Château de Rougeon, ride a 4 x 4 classic Citroën Mehari through the vineyards for a wine tasting and find out more about the process of natural vinification and fermentation. This fifth generation family domain is certified organic. You’ll find sheep that mow the rows of vines in winter and the chickens that scratch for weeds and grass at the foot of the vines! You can even take a wine cruise with the wine producers of Buxy, who have been awarded the label "vignerons engagés" (committed winegrowers), the first CSR & sustainable label. They offer a floating aperitif aboard a barge on the river Saône. On the menu are fine wines from the Côte Chalonnaise - and a lively atmosphere!
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