Forty-five hectares of vineyards (and some olive groves, of course) make up this family-run, 12th-century winery in the Minervois region of the Languedoc. You can stay in one of the tastefully converted winemaker’s cottages, and there is a big selection of wine tastings; from tours and activities to customised trips.
Château Canet, Canet-Est, Rustiques, France, + 33 468 792 825
Domaine Saint Hilaire
Domaine Saint Hilaire is an award-winning vineyard set in 175-acre land, and has been producing wine since the Roman times. It is a real must-visit if you are dropping by the Languedoc and keen to know some of the local wine history as well as sample some amazing wine. There are numerous wine tasting packages on offer, from a tailored tasting, to tasting with tapas and tasting with a three-course lunch. If you fall in love with the look of Domaine Saint Hilaire, then there’s the option to rent the luxury manor house, which dates back to before the French Revolution.
Domaine Saint Hilaire, Montagnac, France, +33 467 240 008
Domaine La Madura
Domaine La Madura is a small wine estate in the Saint-Chinian appellation that is acknowledged for its quality and diversity of grape. The tasting cellar is open from Monday to Friday for groups of up to 50 people and English is spoken. If you are looking for a smaller, more personal wine tasting in the Languedoc, then this one is for you.
Near Narbonne and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is the beautiful Château l’Hospitalet. This wine estate also offers a 38-room three-star hotel, restaurant, and tasting cellar with lots of wine tourism activities – perfect as a one-destination-suits-all for wine lovers. The estate tends to grapes that are typical to the Languedoc region of France, including Grenache, Syrah, Carignan for reds and Bourboulenc, Marsane, Viognier and more for whites.
Château l’Hospitalet, Route de Narbonne plage, Narbonne, France, +33 468 452 850
Mas de Daumas Gassac
Enjoy guided tours of the cellars and wine tasting in this beautiful, elevated location in the Languedoc, north west of Montpellier. Visits and tastings are carried out in both English and French, but make sure you book ahead for groups of more than eight. This vineyard dates back to 1970 when first-generation winemakers, the Guibert family, embarked on their dream by bringing back to life an old farmhouse and an abandoned mill, then creating the beautiful vineyards seen today. A perfect day trip when staying in Montpellier.
Mas de Daumas Gassac, Haute vallée du Gassac, Aniane, France, +33 467 577 128
Château de Pennautier
Just north of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Carcassonne is the incredible Pennautier castle. Château of Pennautier has been in one family since 1620 – quite a feat – and in 1670 was extended by architect Le Vau, whose work also included the Château of Versailles. The current owners are Nicolas and Miren de Lorgeril, the incredible 10th generation of winemakers on the estate. With over 10 grape varieties and in a setting that simply can’t be beaten, book into La Boutique, where you can taste wines from the six different Lorgeril family estates.
Château de Pennautier, 2 Boulevard Pasteur, Pennautier, France, +33 468 726 529
This vineyard is situated on the foothills of the Pyrenees and is a new kid on the block. Built in 2004, with fine dining options and incredible views of the Pyrenees on its upper floor, Domaine Gayda mixes new technologies with traditional methods to secure the best grape harvests. The vineyard is home to its own wine school – Vinécole – and wine enthusiasts can enrol on multiple wine programs and discoveries, from wine weekends to two-hour tutored tastings.
Domaine Gayda, Chemin de Moscou, Brugairolles, France, +33 468 206 587
The spontaneous choice
Oh to be exploring a region with so much wine that you need hardly seek out a vineyard. If time isn’t on your side or you’re a little late to get organised, then simply find yourself a local wine shop. You’ll find that most are run by completely knowledgeable locals who will happily talk you though their different wines. They’ll probably produce some nibbles to go along with it. Or find yourself a cafe and order a couple of carafes of recommended wine from the waiter. Mix in some local cheese and bread and you’ll have one of the most authentic and relaxed tastings.