Southern Rhone Valley and Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Tour

The wine tour to the great classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape and with the new stars of Côtes-du-Rhône in Provence

— The Rhône River flows past many wine regions before it reaches the Mediterranean. In the southernmost part of the Rhône region we are in Provence, with wines that are just as warm and welcoming as the region and that are full of fruit and spices. In October the sun is still warm here and the grapes have just been harvested.
The southern Rhône Valley is today one of France’s most dynamic wine regions with a wealth of interesting wine makers and wineries of top quality. Even Châteauneuf-du-Pape one of the most historical regions in France have become a mover and shaker thanks to a new generation of winegrower. Pair this with the delicious food from southern France and Provence and it becomes the perfect combination. and the perfect wine tour.

Program    |    Travel facts    |    Book    |    More on the tour

This is a sample program, an example. Every wine and food tour that we organise is different and specially adapted for the season and the circumstances. Details in the program, e.g. which producers we visit, will be different each time.

You can print a printer-friendly version of this program, or download a PDF version, with the Print/PDF button at the bottom.
A magnificent wine chateau in the vineyards

A magnificent wine chateau in the vineyards, copyright BKWine Photography

The southern Rhone Valley is a wine district where “things happen” today. New producers are discovered and brought to fame by the specialised press. In France southern Rhone is traditionally considered as the source for bistro jug wines. You can still find those and they can be excellent value. But today this is a region where more and more producers make wine with very high ambitions. Wines that are top quality and full of personality.

The southern Rhone is a big region. The production is 25 times bigger than in the northern part of the Rhone Valley. You find vineyards along the river but also up in the mountains, on steep slopes, and on the plains in the Rhone delta.

We stay four nights in Avignon, a lively city full of historic sites to explore and with a rich cultural life. Here you find France’s most famous bridge; perhaps you are familiar with the song Sur le Pont d’Avignon on y danse, on y danse… There is also the very impressive Papal Palace where the popes resided during a big part of the 14th century.

There are many excellent restaurants to explore in the evenings when you want to relax after a day visiting vineyards.

We will of course visit Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of the most prestigious wine regions in France. For some time it was resting on its laurels but in recent decades there is a new energy and dynamism thanks to a new generation of very ambitious winemakers.

The ruin in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

The ruin in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, copyright BKWine Photography

The summer palace of the Popes in Avignon was 20 kilometres north of the city, in a small village that later got the name Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Today this is a small town with some 2000 inhabitants, totally surrounded by the 3000 hectares of vineyards that make up the appellation.

From what is left of the summer palace, a ruin on a hilltop, you have a beautiful view over the vineyards and the Rhone River. On clear days you can see all the way to Avignon, 20 kilometres away, with the Pope’s permanent residence, and to the Alpilles (the limestone rock formations close to the Mediterranean), the Luberon and the impressive Mont de Ventoux.

We will also visit the area near the beautiful mountain range called Les Dentelles de Montmirail, with its lacework looking summits (dentelles is lace in French). This is where you find the wine villages of Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Séguret, Beaumes-de-Venise, Cairanne and Rasteau. The ambitious producers of this region are a good illustration of what relatively the “humble” appellations of Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages can produce when in the right hands!

Relaxing after lunch in the shade with a view over the vineyards

Relaxing after lunch in the shade with a view over the vineyards, copyright BKWine Photography

There is also a lot of interest here for organic wines and winemaking that is caring about the environment. That is a very interesting trend and we will visit some wineries where the winemakers will explain the details of organic wines and what it means in the vineyards and in the wine cellar. We can promise you some interesting discussions!

The food and gastronomy will have a prominent place on this tour. Provencal recipes and the gourmet food of the south of France bring to mind juicy tomatoes, fresh vegetables, succulent barbecues, delicious fruits of all kinds.

We will enjoy three lunches during the trip that will be gastronomic experiences. Sometimes as guests at a winery or the home of a winemaker, sometimes in a restaurant with local specialities. You will have plenty of opportunities to savour the cuisine and to see for yourself how the Rhône wines are best paired with the gourmet cuisine of the south of France.

Avignon is easily reached with the TGV high speed train from Paris of from the Marseilles airport.

The tour is led by one of BKWine’s wine and travel expert guides.

More info

We have written a lot about The Rhone Valley and about wine touring in the region, what to do and what to expect.

Here you can find more about travelling in the Rhone Valley wine region.

You can also find more information on the wines from the Rhone on BKWine Magazine.

Program — Wine Tour to the Southern Rhone Valley and Châteauneuf-du-Pape

This is a sample program, an example. Every wine and food tour that we organise is different and specially adapted for the season and the circumstances. Details in the program, e.g. which producers we visit, will be different each time.

Contact BKWine for more details.

Program overview

  • Wednesday — Arrival in Avignon
  • Thursday — Châteauneuf-du-Pape
  • Friday — Gigondas and Vacqueyras
  • Saturday — Lirac, the western side of the river
  • Sunday — Heading back home

Wednesday  / Day 1 — Arrival in Avignon

You arrive in Avignon and check in at our centrally located hotel, the four-star Hotel Novotel Avignon Centre, just a short walk from the historic city centre and from the railway station.

People on the terraces of the cafés

People on the terraces of the cafés, copyright BKWine Photography

The hotel is located just outside the old city walls (so that our bus can pick us up at the door of the hotel; buses are not allowed inside the city wall). It is brand new, elegantly designed and very comfortable.

Avignon is a typical Provencal town. It has wide avenues lined with plane trees and narrow winding streets that feel as if nothing has changed for several hundred years. The town is full of life and has a very active night life; there are cafés on all the town squares, restaurants ranging from friendly neighbourhood bistros to luxury, wine bars etc.

You must not miss, cannot miss, the immense and impressive Papal Palace from the 14th century, the city wall that surrounds the whole central part of the city, and the famous bridge. It is actually called Pont Saint Bénézet and ends abruptly in the middle of the river.

You will have plenty of time to explore this charming city, a gem of the south of France.

Free evening to explore the city and the night life.

Palais de Papes in Avignon

Palais de Papes in Avignon, copyright BKWine Photography

Thursday / Day 2 — Châteauneuf-du-Pape

After breakfast we head out to our waiting bus. Today will be spent on getting to know Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the most famous wine of the southern Rhône Valley.

An old wine cellar with oak barrels in the Rhone Valley

An old wine cellar with oak barrels in the Rhone Valley, copyright BKWine Photography

You will become intimately familiar with the wonderfully warm and spicy aromas with cinnamon, cloves, freshly roasted coffee. We will have a close look at the amazing round stones, les galets, that are so characteristic for these vineyards. They accumulate heat in the day and give it to the vines at night.

There are actually three types of soil in Châteauneuf, the famous galets roulés, sand, and clay. Each type of soil produces wines of their own specific character.

We will visit some producers from the new generation of winemakers, like Domaine de la Janasse, Domaine Giraud, Domaine La Barroche, or Mas de Boislauzon, but also classic estates like Château Montredon or Château la Nerthe. We will also have the time for a closer look at the ruin of the papal summer palace and admire the view over the vineyards, the river and, if we are lucky, Avignon.

We will have lunch at one of the wineries we visit or in a regional restaurant with a view over the vineyards. This will be the perfect occasion to try out how these powerful wines match the local food. It will be a multi-course meal with local gastronomic specialities.

Late afternoon we are back in Avignon. The evening is free. We will be happy to give you some of our best recommendations for an evening restaurant.

A few hardy vines in a very stony soil

A few hardy vines in a very stony soil, copyright BKWine Photography

Friday / Day 3 — Gigondas and Vacqueyras

Today we head north east towards the elegant Dentelles de Montmirail Mountains. We will visit the famous wine villages of Gigondas and Vacqueyras.

Wine tasting in the garden at the winery

Wine tasting in the garden at the winery, copyright BKWine Photography

We will visit one of the top producers (for example Domaine Montirius, Domaine Sang de Cailloux, or Domaine Monardière) who will show you that the wines from here are full-bodied, elegant and to be taken very seriously. Chateauneuf is no longer alone in making top class wines in the southern Rhône Valley.

For lunch we will make a short hop south to Beaumes-de-Venise, a village that was originally famous for its sweet muscat wines. You will enjoy a wonderful gastronomic lunch at the Restaurant Dolium. It is the wine co-operative in Beaumes de Venise who started this extraordinary restaurant a few years ago and brought in a young chef who is now one of the top talents in the region.

It is the young chef Pascal Poulain who is behind the cuisine at Le Dolium. The name of the co-operative is Cave Balma Vénitia. They have also raised the ambition several notches for the wines. You will of course have a tasting over lunch that will show you some of the exciting wine and food pairings that they have in this region.

After lunch we head north, to Cairanne. There are several top-notch winemakers in this village that have contributed to Cairanne’s world fame. You have for example Domaine Marcel Richaud, Domaine Alary, Domaine de l’Oratoire Saint Martin, just to mention a few of the producers that have been pioneers for the wines in the southern Rhone. We will visit one of them for a detailed look and taste.

Late afternoon we are back in Avignon. The evening is free. Perhaps you are not so hungry after the extensive lunch? Then we can recommend one of the wine bars in the town. They are not always easy to find, but we have the addresses.

Dessert: elegant fig tart

Dessert: elegant fig tart, copyright BKWine Photography

Saturday / Day 4 — Lirac, the western side of the river

Rocky soil in the Rhone Valley and ripe grapes

Rocky soil in the Rhone Valley and ripe grapes, copyright BKWine Photography

Today we drive across the river to the Lirac appellation. Lirac is not as well-known as the wine regions on the east side of the Rhone but it is just as exciting, wine wise.

Here you can for instance find the very interesting producer Domaine Duseigneur that has become well-known partially thanks to that one of the top sommeliers and restaurateurs in Paris has become a part owner.

Duseigneur is an organic and even biodynamic winery. You will learn how this type of viticulture changes the character of the wines. We will go for a walk in the vineyard and take a look at the plants and hers, as well as the equipment, which are used in biodynamic farming.

Domaine Duseigneur makes wines both in the appellation Lirac and Côtes du Rhône Villages Laudun. This is a unique opportunity to get behind the scenes at an organic and biodynamic winery.

We will finish the visit with a wine tasting of their full range of wines and then it is time for lunch wine the winemaker.

The Dentelles de Montmirail Mountains and vineyards in the Rhone Valley

The Dentelles de Montmirail Mountains and vineyards in the Rhone Valley, copyright BKWine Photography

To taste the wines together with food gives you quite a different experience than when you stand in the tasting room or in the wine cellar.

If we have luck with the weather (most likely!) then we will have lunch in the garden: starting with different salads, charcuteries, and cold cuts, continuing with meat grilled over the open fire, local cheeses and perhaps even grandma’s home-made apple pie.

After lunch we will visit another winery on the west side of the Rhone River. This is the opportunity to ask any question that you have not yet had an answer to since it is the last winery visit on the tour.

Late afternoon we are back in Avignon.

The evening is free to enjoy Avignon. If it is a warm evening we can recommend a walk across the bridge (the new one, not the old that only goes half way!) to see the spectacular view of the illuminated Papal Palace.

Sunday / Day 5 — Heading back home

The tour ends after breakfast. Departure.

Program may be subject to minor modifications.

Palais de Papes in Avignon

Palais de Papes in Avignon, copyright BKWine Photography

Tour Details — wine tour to the Southern Rhone Valley and Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Dates: This is a sample program. Look in the menu “Our Tours > Scheduled Tours” to check what scheduled tours are currently on the program or contact us to discuss a custom made private wine tour.

Price per person: This is a sample program. Look in the menu “Our Tours > Scheduled Tours” to check what scheduled tours are currently on the program or contact us to discuss a custom made private wine tour.

Included in the price:

  • 4 hotel nights, double occupancy, including breakfast, good quality mid-range European style hotel:
    • Four nights in four-star hotel in Avignon
  • Meals as described in the program above (*):
    • 3 gastronomic multi-course lunches including prestigious wines, at wineries or local typical restaurants
  • Start and end point: Avignon
  • Bus transport during the whole trip
  • All vineyard and winery visits
  • Private, high quality tastings at wineries, approx. 3 per day
  • Interpretation from French as needed (some visits may be in English)
  • Wine guiding and wine tutoring by an expert BKWine guide

(*) See below for more important information on our meals.

Not included:

  • Travel (flights) to the destination and back from your home location.

You organise your travel to the destination yourself. If you want assistance with organising your flight tickets etc, please contact us.

We warmly recommend that you plan a few extra days here if you have the time! It is a very interesting place and well worth some “non-wine” tourism too! We can assist you with booking additional hotel nights if you want.

Book This Tour

This is a sample program. Look in the menu “Our Tours > Scheduled Tours” to check what scheduled tours are currently on the program or contact us to discuss a custom made private wine tour.

You book by contacting Britt Karlsson, BKWine:

  • phone: +33 1 58 88 04 66 or +33 6 80 45 35 70 (+33 is the country code for France)
  • email: info at bkwine dot com
  • skype: bkwine

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More on our wine tours

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About the wine producers and wineries we visit

An olive oil producer and winemaker

An olive oil producer and winemaker, copyright BKWine Photography

Our aim is that you shall experience some of the best and most interesting that the wine region has to offer, both of wine and food.

We put a big effort into finding and creating outstanding winery visits. Often it will not be the most “famous” and internationally well-known wineries that will give you the best and most unique experiences…

It is usually when you get to meet the winemaker or winery owner himself (or often herself) that the visits become really exciting. And perhaps we even meet the whole family at the estate.

You start discussing and start to understand what it is they do and why in the winery and in the vineyard. Maybe we will also have lunch in the winery or at their home. Need we say we invariably have private wine tastings at the wineries?

That is why our trips are not “jam packed” with visits at wineries. Nevertheless we often run short of time since the discussions – and the wine tastings – can easily become very engaging…

Our wine country tours typically include a mix of small family producers, exclusive boutique wineries and larger internationally well-known wine estates, all selected with great care so that it will give you a unique experience of the people and of the behind-the-scenes in the winery and a good understanding of the wine district’s characteristics, tradition and culture.

At the time of publishing a travel program not all visits have been finalised. We are continuously working on improving the program. The domaines / wineries / châteaux that we visit on a tour may therefore sometimes differ from what was written in the original program. Contact us if you want more details, or if you have any special requests.

On meals: food and gastronomy

Preparing a wine tasting and lunch

Preparing a wine tasting and lunch

Wine and food are intimately linked. That is part of our wine travel philosophy; wine is an integral part of the gastronomy.

A wine tour with BKWine will therefore also be a gastronomic experience.

The meals that are included in a tour with BKWine are on a gourmet level and of very high standard.

Sometimes we will have a meal with a winemaker, perhaps in the wine cellar or at the winery, or even in their home. This is a unique experience that is generally not open to other visitors to wineries. It is an occasion to experience exciting combinations of food and wine while discussing with the people who made the wine.

Sometimes we will have a luxurious meal at a gourmet restaurant. At other times it may be not at a prestigious luxury address but at a local restaurant selected for its presentation of local gastronomic specialities, its atmosphere and its quality – a place where locals go. Or perhaps it will be a buffet lunch made at home by the winemaker and his wife. In all cases we want to show you local gastronomic specialities and the local food and wine pairings.

Do not expect a picnic with salad and sausage from the supermarket and wine in plastic mugs… Think instead of a wine-and-dine experience with specially composed menu with three or four courses and delicious wines.

A wine tour with BKWine is also a culinary experience both for the wine enthusiast and for the gourmet. A gourmet wine tour!

Why travel with BKWine?

Wine slowly aging in the barrel cellar

Wine slowly aging in the barrel cellar, copyright BKWine Photography

We are experts and specialists in wine and food tours and wine tourism, but also in wine in a broader perspective.

No other tour operator has a comparable knowledge and experience of wine, wine regions, wine tours and gourmet travel as BKWine.

We have organised hundreds of wine and food tours. This is what we love to do, because it is fun and exciting. What we want more than anything is to share with you all these wonderful experiences.

It does not matter if you are “a total novice” on wine and food or if you have a life-long experience in the wine sector. We will give you a very special experience, in a way that no other tour operator can do.

We write in specialised wine magazines and one of our books has won the prize as best wine book in the world. We are regularly called on to be part of judging panels in wine competitions.

We personally visit some 300 vineyards every year. We have organised several hundreds of wine and food tours with an experience going back more than twenty years. We are invited as speakers at wine tourism and culinary touring conferences.

We choose our tour destinations and winery visits with great care. Not because a winery happens to be carrying a “famous name” but because they will give our guests — you! — a unique and special experience. You may be looking for a short wine week-end holiday or a longer wine vacation; in all cases you can be confident that you will get a top quality tour, an experience of a lifetime. Or at least one that will last you until the next time you come on a wine tour with BKWine. Many of our travellers are returning clients.

A wine and food tour with BKWine is always guided by a knowledgeable and experienced BKWine guide and tour manager, someone who knows the ins and outs of wine, of the local gastronomy, of the culture and who speaks the language.

Some accolades we at BKWine and our wine and food tours have received:

  • “World’s Top Wine Tours” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, the world’s biggest travel magazine
  • “Best wine tasting holidays”, AOL Travel’s list of top wine tours
  • “Recommended Wine Tours” by Munskankarna, the world’s biggest wine tasting and wine appreciation association
  • “World’s Best Wine Book for Professionals” as well as “Best Wine Book of the Year” in Sweden 2010 for the book The Creation of a Wine
  • “Best wine book for Professionals” again in 2012 in Sweden, as well as silver, runner-up, as “World’s Best Educational Wine Book” for the book Wine and the Environment
  • “Wine Personality of the Year” by Munskankarna, the world’s biggest wine tasting and wine appreciation association
  • On the Wine Media Power List by Wine Business International Magazine (Britt, 2012)

Read more on why to choose BKWine for a wine and food tour.

Read more on what previous travellers have said about our tours.

Important information

Our groups are always small. The group size may vary, sometimes maximum 8, sometimes 20, but always of a modest size (we do not do “minimum 20, maximum 45”). Check the details in each program. This is important since it guarantees a quality experience and a personal welcome at the wineries we visit.

BKWine is a Swedish registered travel organiser. BKWine has a bonded travel guarantee deposit so that you can feel safe when booking with us. We fully comply with European and Swedish travel guarantee regulations. British travellers may be familiar with the ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) protection scheme which is a similar model. BKWine follows the code of conduct and financial safeguards defined by the Swedish Consumer Agency and The Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency (“Kammarkollegiet”, with a history dating back to 1539). Read more about this in our Booking Terms and Conditions.

Read the BKWine Booking Terms and Conditions here. They are important to you!

You organise your travel independently to the destination for most of our tours but on location we take care of everything.

For more inspiration

Read our wine travel blog. And also:

  • Recommend this trip to a friend using the Share/Save (add-to-any) button below!

Newsletter on wine

Subscribe to our free wine and travel newsletter, the BKWine Brief. Each month it gives you news from the world of wine, restaurant recommendations, tips on our favourite wine producers and much more. And keeps you updated on upcoming wine and food tours.

Custom Tours

We also do custom wine and food tours if you want to choose different dates or if you want something different than what we currently offer on our scheduled tours – for individuals, companies, professionals, wine tastings clubs etc.

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One Comment to Southern Rhone Valley and Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Tour

  1. Laurent March 24, 2013 at 13:10 #

    Hello BK Wines lovers,

    I have not gotten on this tour myself, but I am CERTAIN it will rock! Why?

    While I have been living in SE Asia for over 8 years, i am originally from the Rhone River Valley area described here. especially, the area of Vacqueyras and Beaumes de Venise. Montirius and Sang des Cailloux domaines are literally my neighbors! These are located on the municipality of Sarrians where I have grown up and these properties are making amazing wines include din the Vacqueyras appelation.

    Now, I design thematic tours to Laos, and have designed an amazing New latitude Wines of Thailand tour also passing by Laos. If you guys ever fancy visiting new wines, gastronomy and cultural horizons, give me a shout!

    Cheers / Sante ! Laurent

    PS: if you need names and recommendations for Beaumes de Venise next time, just let me know! Pity to miss this unique Natural Sweet Wine, nectar of the Popes!

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