France has to be right at the top of your list if you are a wine lover. From bold, fruity, oak-aged red wines and rich dry rosés to light-bodied, easy-drinking white wines with notes of white flowers, citrus and jasmine, there are vineyards throughout the country and commercial production takes place in every region of France barring the north coast. Though Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux enjoy world-wide recognition as wine producers, your grape escape shouldn’t begin and end with only these three destinations – wining and dining in the south of France really packs a punch. Southern France is breathtakingly beautiful with turreted castles hidden among forests and vine-covered hillsides. There is no shortage of unspoiled nature, local specialties, and perfectly matched wines for oenophiles and bon vivants to enjoy while staying at a vineyard hotel in southern France.
Grape escape: Best vineyard stays in the south of France
Drink a toast to Provence
Provence is part of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region that stretches all the way from the border with Italy to the Rhone, with Marseilles being the capital of the region. Best known for its emblematic purple lavender fields and the Mont Saint Vincent so often captured on canvas by Cezanne, the history of Provence is actually older than France itself. Provence tastes like its Provençal Mediterranean cuisine with hints of thyme, basil, oregano and rosemary, as well as the full-bodied reds and dry rosés produced in this region. Another famous Provence wine that can be sampled while staying at a vineyard hotel in southern France is Bandol, produced in one of the oldest wine-growing regions of France. Bandol is a distinctive dark red wine very southern Mediterranean in flavor. Just like the wine bearing the same name as the region, this little corner of Provencal heaven is small in size but huge in character and quality. Enjoy some of the deepest, darkest reds in all of France at a stay in a vineyard hotel in Bandol.
In the wine-light in Bordeaux: You had me at merlot
The very first Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines originated in [Bordeaux)(/bordeaux-hotels "Bordeaux hotels"), so it’s only fitting that even today, more than 90% of the red wines from this region are made with the same two world-famous wines. Bordeaux reds are medium- to full-bodied with hints of plum, black currant and earthy notes. Known for its red clay soil, the wines from the Libourne region of Bordeaux have softer, more refined tannins, with the most sought after being those from the sub-regions of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. A vineyard hotel in southern France makes for an idyllic getaway for honeymooners and wine connoisseurs alike, looking to bask in the luxury of an exclusive vacation in this romantic region. Located directly opposite the Grand Théâtre, the 5-star Grand Hotel de Bordeaux & Spa undoubtedly boasts the best location in the historic center of Bordeaux. Offering a concierge service, gourmet restaurants with gastronomic dishes created by Gordon Ramsay, a babysitting service on request, a 1000m² spa and wellness centre and stylish rooms with 19-century furnishings and elegant marble bathrooms, you are spoilt for choice and will feel like royalty in this regal luxury hotel. Perched on a large rock cliff above Cahors offering breathtaking views of the Lot valley, the turreted castle towers of Château de Mercuès is hands down the best place to enjoy wine packages and a guided cellar tour and tasting while on a visit to the region of Périgord, well known for its appellation-protected strawberries and black truffles. Combine a stay at a vineyard hotel in southern France with a visit to the Bordeaux Wine Festival, which takes place in the city every two years.
Uncork and unwind off-piste in the Rhone Alpes
Though the Rhone Alps, stretching from Lake Geneva to Provence, is famous for its Alpine ski areas, this breathtaking region is more than just the French Alps – this is white wine heaven. You wouldn’t think that an alpine location is suitable for growing wines, but the Savoy region is a unique microclimate with Mediterranean as well as alpine influences. Savoy (also Savoie) is made up of isolated sub-regions scattered across four French departments, neighboring Switzerland to the east, the Jura region to north, and the Bugey region across the Rhone river to the west. Despite their elevation, the 23 different types of grapes that grow on the slopes here, along with apricot, fig, olive and almond trees, enjoy a surprisingly warm climate and the moderating effects of nearby lakes and rivers. Jacquère is the region’s most widely planted grape variety, producing lively dry white wines with floral and fruity notes of white flowers, pear, grapefruit and white peach to name just a few. The prosperous Rhone Alps region also boasts some of the most reputed vineyards stretching both north and south of Lyon, one of its three main cities. The terraced vineyards around the steep-sided Rhone Valley between Vienne and Valence are some of the most attractive in the area, while the vineyards in the drier region of Ardèche produce Mediterranean-style reds.
Wine ’o clock: Time to wine down in Burgundy
Not too far from Lyon, the Burgundy region of southern France is known for its rich, hearty cooking, Epoisses cheeses and Dijon mustard. The historic capital, Dijon also hosts a food festival every fall. Monks started making wine in small batches here during the reign of Charlemagne, with the latterday wine-growers of Burgundy maintaining this ancient tradition by producing limited quantities from various small vineyards. Aged for 10 or 20 years, the reds in Burgundy are made with Pinot Noir grapes, whereas the Burgundy whites are made from Chardonnay grapes. Seasoned wine connoisseurs know and love this region precisely thanks to these two grape varieties, which produce some of the most expensive and well-loved wines in the world. The wines produced here are elegant, aromatic and complex in character. Southern France is home to exceptional vineyard hotels, offering you luxury access to exquisite wines from all over the region, and inviting you to explore, wine and dine your way around some of southern France’s most beautiful countryside.