Atout France, the French tourism development organization, has rolled out a gorgeous new website that promises to be a place where “wine regions reveal their secrets”. The site is reasonably named Visit French Wine.
The website allows visitors to slip into each wine area separately through regionally-based menus and an interactive map. Travelers may also input a bit about themselves into a menu that will provide trip inspiration. The site includes news headlines, an event calendar, expert advise and more.
I tried out the site with my indication that I’ll be travelling as a couple (a romantic trip with my husband) and that I wanted to “meet the winemakers”. Here are some of the highlights of the, very excellent, options that Visit French Wine offered for me:
Nestling in the heart of an extensive vineyard, the Relais & Chateaux hotel Coquillade Village is the perfect place from which to visit Provence. Vineyard walks, wine cellar tastings and a spa … Welcome to a great wine tourism location at the foot of the Luberon Mountains.
A path lined with cypress trees leads to an authentic Provençal village at the top of a hill. The five-star Coquillade Village hotel offers a breathtaking view over the Luberon mountain range and the mountains of the Vaucluse and Ventoux. The perfect place to discover the charm of the Provence region, this delightful hotel, affiliated to Relais & Chateaux, combines dignity, refinement and respect for the environment.
The mythical hillside of Hermitage, where the vines seem to plunge towards the Rhône River. A trip to this exceptional wine-growing area on the banks of the Rhône, labelled Vineyards & Discoveries.
Take a trip to the wine cellar of Tain-l’Hermitage vineyard, and enjoy an informative tour which allows you to walk along the tracks of the Hermitage hillside to discover the secrets of the famous Côtes-du-Rhône wines. The view plunges down to the river across the terraced vines and offers a breathtaking vantage over this Vineyards & Discoveries site. When you arrive, the new tour of the wine cellar offers a tasting of Rhône wines to learn how they are made.
In the heart of the Provençal vineyards, introduce yourself to the thousand-year-old tradition of the grape harvest and enjoy a friendly social experience with the winemakers during your stay.
A haven of greenery in the heart of the Provençal vineyards next to Fréjus, the Clos des Roses vineyard has a modern wine cellar filled with huge sculptures, as well as an authentic Provençal house. You will savour the gourmet tastes of Mediterranean- and Provençal-style cuisine and relax in one of the eight stylishly decorated rooms. During the grape harvest, go with the team for a morning of grape picking, then taste the first juice of the crushed grapes and have lunch with the pickers.
If any of these options sound appealing to me (yes, they all do) the site provides a map, proprietor contact information, regional tourism links and other connection details allowing the user to link directly with the establishments suggested.
This is a compelling resource for wine regions and travelers because it coordinates interests with a story and creates suggestions based on what the estates and properties feel are unique experiences that can be offered at special times during the year.
I particularly liked the regional pushpin that illustrates a map, local weather, Three Reasons to Go, links to the local wine board and other highlights. The Three Reasons to Go to Provence were listed as:
1. Explore the Provence region: its maritime sites, famous cities, history, authentic markets and lifestyle.
2. Play apprentice winemaker: learn how to tell the difference between the different grape varieties at the winemaking workshop in the vineyards
3. Make the most of fine food with gourmet walks in the vineyards accompanied by the winemakers and major restaurant owners.
I will certainly watch this site closely to pick up on any unique experiences that Visit French Wine finds for me!