Discovering the vineyard, learning more about the vine and wine-growing professions – winemaker, cellar master… during visits, tasting and enjoying the diversity of French wines… All these elements and more are what make upwine tourism. And you don’t have to love wine or know how to taste it to enjoy wine tourism!
Wine plays an important role in French culture. A third of tourists visiting France even cite wine and gastronomy as a motivation for their visit. France is also known for its many high-quality wines. It is quite naturally that hospitality around wine has developed in France.
ifwine tourism was first centered on the meeting between winegrowers, winemakers and tourists, it has expanded to many other activities: roaming on “wine routes” (“routes des vins”), “slow tourism” walks and hikes through the vineyards, visiting museums around wine and know-how around the vine, commented tastings, business seminars in vineyards…Thus, wine tourism can be a visit to the Bordeaux vineyards, just as well as a walk in the vineyards of Provence or even discovering the specificities of Alsatian wines.
Wine tourism is not just about visiting a single destination in France. France offers 13 main major wine-growing regions: Alsace, Champagne, Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Jura, Burgundy, Provence-Corsica, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Rhone Valley, the Loire Valley, Lorraine, the South-West and Savoie-Bugey. In 2020, France had 796,000 hectares of vines and was the 2nd world producing country. So many wines and vineyards to discover!
When was wine tourism born?
It may be that this concept of wine tourism visits is unknown to you, or it may even seem recent in France. However, it was in the 70s that wine tourism developed, offering the opportunity to discover the Napa Valley in California – a famous wine region. Its famous “wine train” offers 40 kilometers of travel with superb views of the hills and the vineyard landscapes of the area.
In the 80s, wine tourism experienced great growth and networks of wine tourism destinations began to emerge, in particular the network called “Great Wine Capitals”. The Bordeaux vineyard is part of this network, being known and recognized for its wines.
However, in France, the first wine route wad not created in Bordeaux vineyard. The first was the Alsace Wine Route – and it celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2023! Between wine-growing cities and meetings with passionate winemakers, there is no doubt that the oldest wine route in France is a quality wine tourism offer.
Is wine tourism recognized in France?
In 2000, a wine tourism cluster was created by Atout France to bring together French tourism and wine professionals. The goal was to promote the development of French wine regions.
It was in 2009 that the “Conseil Supérieur” of Wine Tourism was created, based on the observation that the number of visitors who came to discover the vineyards in France was increasing considerably.
It was also in 2009 that the label “Vignobles et Découvertes” (“Vineyards and Discoveries”) was created to recognize quality tourism services in the French wine regions, so as to make stays and experience selections simpler for French and international tourists. The commitments of the certified destinations are:
- a level of quality in the reception in French and in another language at least;
- – a very particular sensitivity to the world of wine;
- – a desire to share knowledge;
- openness to cultural, natural and human heritage.
This label therefore offers the opportunity to find unusual experiences in the middle of vineyards, to meet passionate winemakers willing to share their stories, or even to enjoy great food-wine pairing.
What are the types of wine tourists?
An oenotourist is a person who has spent at least one night in France outside his home and has done an activity allowing him to discover wine and vineyards.
There are 4 types of wine tourists:
- Epicureans: they make up 40% of wine tourists. They come for a cellar visit, to taste or to buy wine.
- The classics: they make up 20% of wine tourists. Wine is part of the French heritage, as are the wine regions and this is what piques their interests, but they do not necessarily make the trip for this type of stay only.
- Explorers: they make up 20% of wine tourists. The vineyard, the wine, the vine, these are so many elements that constitute their research prerequisites: they want to know the subtleties and secrets of wine destinations.
- The experts: they make up 16% of wine tourists. They are looking for their destination to discover the history and culture of the world of wine.
So, who are the best points of contact to check out vineyards, wine productions, or to discover a rich culture with a visit to a château or cognac house?
It is not only the winegrowers who are actors in wine tourism but also: châteaux, trading houses, tourist accommodation, activity providers, DMC…
Agencies have specialized in wine tourism in France. These are often DMC (Destination Management Company) specialized in vineyards and which welcome French and foreign tourists who wish to discover the vineyards and the professions related to it (winegrowers, cellar masters…).
But what is the specificity of tourism around cognac?
The region belongs to the wine tourism label (after all, cognac is made by the distillation of wine from the vine), but it is more than that and may also be called spirits tourism – tourism related to spirits, alcoholic beverages obtained following a distillation. There is so much to learn by choosing to discover the vineyards and by exchanging with winemakers for your next vacation. For example, come and learn more about the “distillation charentaise” (double distillation), which takes place exclusively from November to March by meeting “bouilleur-de-cru” winegrowers.
The Cognac vineyard is not yet one of the best known in France in terms of wine tourism, but it is no less magnificent and interesting. It has many secrets to unravel. Why are the walls of the aging cellars blackened? How is cognac made? If you want to learn more about wines and travel across France to follow the “wine routes”, then you should include the Cognac vineyard in your visit to discover, among other things, the answers to these questions.
The cognac vineyard extends between the Charente, the Charente-Maritime and some municipalities of Dordogne and Deux-Sèvres – which are all French provinces. It is a very large vineyard of more than 83,000 hectares, which makes it the largest vineyard in Europe in white grape variety. There are so many acres of vines to discover, by bike, on horseback, in a 2CV and much more!
What wine tourism packages do we offer at XO madame?
XO madame specialized in wine tourism in France and more particularly tourism in the Cognac vineyard. We can offer you all kinds of activities for your seminars but also your holidays between friends, with moments of relaxation in the middle of the vineyards with a picnic or more unusual activities with a horse ride in the vineyard followed by visiting and meeting with winemakers.
We are committed to making wine tourism last and offer a sustainable and eco-conscious tourism alternative, respectful of the environment, by favoring local sourcing and local know-how. There is no doubt that a bike ride in the vineyard will make you fully appreciate cognac and its landscapes, while offering you an eco-conscious experience.
It is thanks to a network of local partners – winegrowers, cognac houses, estates… – that we can arrange your stays on the Cognac vineyard. We will be able to design stays in line with your needs, whether you want an individual or group leisure stay, or even for a business seminar in the heart of vineyards. Whether you are new towinetourisme or experts, we will be able to offer you a tailor-made stay that will make you discover and appreciate much more all the products from the local vineyard: cognac of course, but also the Charentais wines – white, red and rosé, or Pineau des Charentes, and the activities that go with them!
 Atout France
We would be delighted to help you organize visits and events in the vineyards of Cognac. So please feel free to contact us by telephone, email or using the contact form below. So please feel free to contact us by telephone, email, or using the contact form below, and we will be delighted to respond as quickly as possible to fulfill your expectations.