In the second of my Provence duo, I have saved the best for last. One of the best things to do while in Provence is to tour the wineries, be dazzled by the in-your-face-beauty of the scenery and taste a few local wines at the cellar door.
So here are my top five Provence wineries, all easily accessible if you base yourself in the Luberon area. Plus, I give you few practicalities to help you plan your trip.
I first visited the Chateau Fontvert winery a few years ago and fell in love with its minerally white wines (the rosés were incredible too, but the whites are phenomenal….). So this time, as soon as we moved into our villa, we made a beeline straight back to this little gem of a winery.
If you like minerally whites and delicate classic rosés, this is the winery for you If you visit between early May and late September, you can drop in any day (except Sundays) for a tasting. Check the website for their cellar door opening times.
Chateau Fontvert is located close to the very charming village of Lourmarin, so after your visit, I recommend heading there for a wander and aperitif at one of the sublime little terrace bars in town.
Chateau Fontvert, 15 Chemin de Pierrouret, 84160 Lourmarin
Domaine de Fontenille
One of my favourite wineries was Domaine de Fontenille. The cellar door and the winery itself have been modernised relatively recently, so the interior is slick and modern without sacrificing any of its history and old school charm. Large, dramatic arched windows look out over the sprawling vines, making the perfect setting for a tasting.
The wines were exquisite of course, and all of them will have the official organic classification in the next year or so.
Fontenille is also home to a luxury boutique hotel, spa, art gallery and impressively kept grounds. The winery hosts jazz concerts during the summer, and you can book a picnic to be delivered to you amongst the vines.
You can drop in for a wine tasting at Fontenille every day at 5pm, or book ahead for a guided tour and wine tasting for EUR15 per person. Check the website for contact details and opening times.
Chateau la Verrerie
Another of my favourites was Chateau la Verrerie. Set in a former glass factory, the cellar door is modern inside, but retains a traditional aesthetic. The very charismatic Vincent, who is clearly passionate about their wines, led our winetasting, making the overall experience a lot of fun. We found the perfect rosé here, although a few Verrerie reds have also made it home to London.
You can drop in for a tasting every day during the summer months, although call ahead to make sure they will be open and can accommodate your group. Chateau la Verrerie also offers tours and wine tasting or food pairing courses.
Chateau la Verrerie, 1810 Route du Luberon, 84360 Puget-Sue-Durance
Vignobles Mayard – Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Visiting Châteauneuf-du-Pape opens up a whole world of reds after a solid regime of rosé. And while there are a myriad of wineries to visit in and around Châteauneuf-du-Pape, my tip is the Vignobles Mayard. It is a family run vineyard and uses ecological, traditional hand-picked methods.
Although their reds were phenomenal, I have to admit I was a little bit taken by their rosé and procured a couple of bottles for myself. Vignobles Mayard will also ship your wine to your home too (more room in your wine suitcase).
Tastings for groups of less than 5 people are free. Larger groups will pay approx. EUR10 per person. Call ahead to make a reservation for a tour and tasting.
Vignobles Mayard cellar door is conveniently located in the town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I recommend a lunch on the terrace at nearby restaurant, La Mere Germaine.
Vignobles Mayard, 24 Avenue Baron Le Roy, 84231 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
La Mere Germaine, 3 Rue Commandant Lemaître, 84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Chateau la Canorgue
Chateau la Canorgue was the most scenic of the wineries we visited. The maison is the house from the film A Good Year. And although you can’t visit the house itself, the cellar door is just as charming, as are the vines, garden and, beyond them, the hills that it overlooks.
There are some rather delightful rosés here, as well a boutique, small production of a very good red.
From May to August, the cellar door is open all day every day except for Sundays. Drop in for a tasting with a view.
Chateau la Canorgue, Route du Pont Julien – D149, 84480 Bonnieux
During the summer months most cellar doors close between midday and about 2:30pm. As a general rule, always check the winery website for opening hours and whether you need to book in a tasting.
If you base yourself in the Luberon area, all the wineries I’ve mentioned above are easily accessible. I wouldn’t try to see them all in one day however (Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a little further away from the heart of the Luberon region, where the others are located). You could divide and conquer them over two days.
You really do need a car to get around and see Provence properly, even if you are only focusing on a small part of it. The issue with this is that you will need a designated driver for your wine tastings. If you have no willing volunteers amongst your group, do as we did and book a private winery tour guide.
With a guided winery tour, you’ll be picked up and driven to wineries, given private tours of the wineries and tastings, dropped off back at your accommodation, and feel just that little special as a result. We used Provence Wine Tours and found them to be excellent. Our guides had fantastic knowledge of wine making and the region, really knew which were the best vineyards to visit, and put up with a rowdy group of boozehounds like us incredibly graciously.