One of France’s primary wine regions, the Loire Valley produces everything from sparkling whites to light reds. Wine has been produced in the region since the 1st century and rich traditions and strict rules dictate the rhythm of life here.
This full-day tour takes in two different vineyards as well as a wine merchant's cellars, allowing you to learn about the winemaking process from vine to bottle. You get to explore vineyards and production areas, learn about the varieties of grape cultivated and the bottling and ageing process. Guided tastings of local wines are also included, helping you to broaden your knowledge as well as your palate.
The tour begins at your hotel, where your private driver picks you up and takes you to your first stop, Château de la Grille. You begin with a short walk through the vines, learning about the cabernet franc grapes cultivated here and the influence of rock and soil types on the wines produced in the region.
You then have a guided tasting of a variety of the estate's wines including reds produced from its own grapes, as well as white and sparkling white wines created with grapes from another local domaine (estate).
Your next stop is Château Gaudrelle, about a 45-minute drive away, which produces Vouvray wines made with the chenin blanc grape. Here, you walk through the former limestone quarries that now serve as the cellars and the production area, an environment that allows for natural fermentation, and learn about the bottling and ageing process. Your tasting here will include white and sparkling white wines produced on the premises, and also red wines produced in another local domaine that partners with the chateau.
Your third and final stop is the Caves Duhard, a wine specialist that buys and bottles a variety of different wines. There’s also time to stop for lunch in Amboise, which is close by. While here you'll learn about the selection process and the difference between young, gastronomic and vintage wines and why each can be enjoyed at different times.
The cellars contain bottles from most years dating back to the early 1950s and you begin by smelling the ingredients used in wines to try and identify what they are. You then walk through the 16th-century caves (cellars), watch a short silent film about the wines and the cellars, and finally finish your visit with a guided tasting where you learn how to pair wines with local cheese.
At the end of your tour your driver will drive you back to your hotel.