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.
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 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!
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. Provençal 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.
The book about French wines
We have written a prize-winning book on French wines. It gives a thorough introduction to this wine region and its wines as well as a good insight into all wine regions in France, the wine producers and the vineyards. The book is called “France, the country of wine”. Unfortunately it is not available in English currently, only in Swedish with the title “Vinlandet Frankrike”. It covers in detail the French appellations, grape varieties, the rules and regulations, the geography, the gastronomy, history and much else too. It has been given several honours, for example the prestigious “Noble Prize of Wine Literature” by the OIV. Read more on the book here: France, the Country of Wine; Trends and Tradition.
It is one of the few books to cover France in depth so you can feel assured that you will have a difficult time to find a wine tour organiser more knowledgable about the subject.
More travel information
Here are some useful pages and guides about this travel destination:
Even 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.
- Day 1, Wednesday — Arrival in Avignon
- Day 2, Thursday — Châteauneuf-du-Pape
- Day 3, Friday — Vacqueyras, Massif d’Uchaux, Cairanne
- Day 4, Saturday — The Montmirail Mountains
- Day 5, 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.
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 Provençal 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.
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.
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 Chateau de Vaudieu, a magnificent 18th century chateau in the heart of the appellation, surrounded by 70 hectares of vineyards. They make both red and white Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines of excellent quality.
We will also pay a visit to Domaine Duseigneur that has had a fantastic commercial success with their Cotes du Rhone wine called Mas Louise but who also make outstanding wines in Chateauneuf since a few years back, as well as in Lirac across the river.
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.
Friday, Day 3 — Vacqueyras, Massif d’Uchaux, Cairanne
Today we will visit two organic and biodynamic properties. Which also make amazing wines. We will get a good insight into how to manage the vineyards organically.
At Domaine Montirius in Vacqueyras, we will get a good view of everything in the vineyard as well as in the wine cellar. We will get know why the soil is so important and why Montirius does not want to use oak barrels. We will taste through all their range wines, Vacqueyras, Gigondas and Côtes du Rhône appellations.
We then continue on to Cairanne, a small village. Here we will have lunch at a wine restaurant and enjoy a menu specially composed by their very creative chef.
We will end the day in the beautiful Massif d’Uchaux. There are several vineyards here, including Domaine de la Cabotte, making wines with the Côtes du Rhône-Massif d’Uchaux appellation.
Marie-Pierre d’Ardhuy owns and runs the Domaine La Cabotte together with her husband Eric Plumet. It was a more or less deserted property when Marie-Pierre’s father bought it. When Marie-Pierre took over she planted new vines on the vineyards and she also reconstructed old terraces. She has 30 hectares of vines in one single plot, which is unusual in the Rhône Valley, but a great advantage when you are biodynamic, says Eric.
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.
Saturday, Day 4 — The Montmirail Mountains
Today we get closer to the beautiful Montmirail Mountains. This is where you can find many of the famous Côtes-du-Rhône villages. They are often high up on the mountain slopes with the vineyards just below.
We start the day with a visit to a small family winery in Sablet. We will have a very interesting tasting showing the different types and styles of wines they make in the southern Rhone Valley.
After that visit, we will continue further, in a north-easterly direction, towards a town called Valréas. We arrive at a beautiful wine estate with vineyards at 400-500 meters altitude with magnificent views of the Mont Ventoux, Provence’s highest mountain, and the spiky Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range.
We will visit their vineyards and then stay on the beautiful property to have a delicious Provençal lunch with local produce and vegetables from the garden. And we will, of course, drink their wines with the meal.
After lunch we will visit another winery near the Montmirail mountains. 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.
Tour Details — wine tour to the Southern Rhone Valley and Châteauneuf-du-Pape
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.
- 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.
For this trip to take place we must have a minimum of 4 participants registered at the “book before” date. Maximum number of travel guests: 8.
Book This Tour
Read more important information about travel terms and conditions, customer protection, and the contents of our wine tours. And why you should choose BKWine when travelling on a 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)
- Skype: “bkwine”. Call us on skype.
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
More on our wine tours
About the wine producers and wineries we visit
Our aim is that you shall experience some of the best and most interesting that the wine region has to offer, both 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.
With our contacts and our experience from the world of wine with more than 20 years as wine journalists, with more than 10 wine books published, and as wine tour organisers, we have unique contacts and unparalleled knowledge. You can be certain to get the best wine travel experiences with BKWine Tours.
On meals: food and gastronomy
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 a menu designed by the chef for you 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!
Customer protection and financial travel guarantee
BKWine AB is a Swedish-registered tour operator. As such BKWine has a so-called financial travel guarantee deposit with the oversight agency called Kammarkollegiet according to Swedish law as well as EU regulations. Thanks to this you can feel safe when booking your tour with BKWine. Our travel terms and conditions are based on the guidelines developed by the Consumer Protection Agency (Konsumentverket) in collaboration with the travel industry. Read more on this in our travel terms and conditions.
The below information is required as specified by the travel industry oversight agency. All “packaged tour operators” are required by law to have this information in their tour programs:
“The combined travel services that you are offered constitutes a packaged tour in the sense defined by EU regulation 2015/2302.”
“Therefore you benefit from all the EU rights for packaged tours. The company BKWine AB will be responsible for that they packaged tour as a whole is completed correctly.”
“In addition, the company BKWine AB has, as required by law, a protection to repay your payments, and in the case that transport is included in the packaged tour, assure your home transportation in the case that they become insolvent.”
“More information about essential right according to EU directive 2015/2302.”
Read more on this on our page with information about customer protection.
Health, vaccination etc
Our tours have no particular health requirements. However, on a wine tour, you are likely to be walking around in vineyards and in wine cellars, and visits and tastings may often be done standing up. Read more on this in our travel terms and conditions. Contact us if you have any questions.
Most of our travel destination have no particular requirements for vaccination, health or health certificates. What kind of vaccinations etcetera that may be required depends on your nationality and/or which country you come from, so it is impossible to give generally valid detailed information. Read more on this in our travel terms and conditions and contact your doctor, a health and vaccination centre or us if you have any questions.
BKWine does not sell travel insurance. If you want travel insurance check if your regular home insurance includes some kind of travel insurance or contact your regular insurance company or a travel insurance specialist.
Why travel with BKWine?
We are experts and specialists in wine and food tours and wine tourism, but also in wine from 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.
Our tours are not designed to make you buy wine from a specific producer, in contrary to some that are organised by importers or wine retailers or by wine tour companies affiliated with wine sellers. Instead, we can choose the winery visits that are best for you!
It does not matter if you are “a total novice” on wine and food or if you have 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. Even the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the World Bank have as us for advice on wine tourism. We are proud to have been able to help!
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 when you visit them with BKWine.
You may be looking for a short wine weekend 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 an experience 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 Awards and Mentions
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”
- Runner-up as “World’s Best Educational Wine Book”
- The OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine) book award, the prestigious “Nobel Prize of Wine Literature”
- “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
Read more on why to choose BKWine for a wine and food tour.
Read more on what previous travellers have said about our tours.
Our groups are always small. The group size may vary, sometimes maximum 8, sometimes 20, but always of 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.
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:
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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.
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.