Our top 10 wineries and Cognac distilleries in Western France

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Most wineries offer guided tours around the vineyards and cellars, with an explanation of the winemaking process and often a wine tasting at the end to sample some of the produce. At some of the most prestigious wineries, you may have to book an appointment for your visit. The vineyards themselves are often criss-crossed by roads that are perfect for walkers and cyclists to enjoy.

Go on a wine adventure

Whilst you learn the secrets of winemaking and how to appreciate wine and all its flavours, the kids don't have to be bored. Several wineries now offer special tours for kids followed up by grape juice tastings so they can share in the fun too.

Western France is also home to some world-famous Cognac distilleries where the finest brandies are made. Learn about the aging process and visit the cellars, often carved out of tuffeau stone. These underground caves were created by the mining of tuffeau stone to build the stunning chateaux of the Loire Valley. For centuries, the caves have now been used as cellars for aging brandy and wines in the region.

Visit the winery that produces your top tipple or find a new favourite. Your wine adventure starts here!

Best wineries in and around Bordeaux

1. Château Margaux

One of France's most famous wineries and one of the first of the Bordeaux estates to attain premier cru status in 1855, Château Margaux has a real air of exclusivity. Producing some very expensive wines, the estate only allows professionals to take part in tastings although you can book in for a tour of the cellars. The chateau building itself is a beautiful mansion house with grand columns that has been nicknamed the 'Versailles of the Médoc'.

Find out more » Château de Margaux

2. Winery Philippe Raoux

A unique and very modern oenological experience for those who don't like the pomp and circumstance associated with some visits to the great chateaux. You can enjoy a glass of wine by the lakeside, watch films on viticulture and join in some tasting sessions at the Winery Philippe Raoux, which holds some 1,000 wines. Perfect for the more casual wine lover who wants to learn more and you can discover your own 'wine profile'.

Find out more » Winery Phillipe Raoux

3. Planète Bordeaux

Located in the heart of a vineyard, the Planète Bordeaux is an award-winning centre of Bordeaux wines. With tastings available for bottles ready to buy from a choice of vineyards around Bordeaux and a vineyard on the doorstep to explore, this is a great place to learn about the kinds of wines available in the region and how the wines are produced. The choice of wines is excellent and a great starting point for amateur oenophiles.

Find out more » Planète Bordeaux

4. Château Mouton Rothschild

The Château Mouton Rothschild gained its premier cru status in 1973 and is today one of Bordeaux's most renowned wine estates. It is famed for the Grand Chai, the Great Barrel Hall, which was built upon the Baron's insistence in the 1920s that wines should be bottled at the chateau rather than exported in barrels. The hall can hold 1,000 oak casks and is a remarkable sight. Also, don't miss the Museum of Wine in Art which has a remarkable collection of gold and silverware, glassware, porcelain, tapestries and more from all over the world.

Find out more » Château Mouton Rothschild

5. Vinoscope de Médoc

At the Château Maucaillou, youi'll discover everything you need to know about winemaking, wine tasting and viticulture inside the estate's elegant chateau. There's a museum showcasing the tools of coopering and winemaking, a school of wine where tasting workshops are held and you can take a tour of the vineyard. The chateau is also a hotel so why not stay for a weekend in Médoc and learn all about wine and winemaking at your leisure?

Find out more » Vinoscope de Médoc

Best wineries in the Loire

6. Caves de Grenelle

White wine fan? Then head to the Loire where sparkling whites are aged in caves of tuffeau stone underground. At the Caves de Grenelle wine house near Saumur, the last to be independently-owned in the area, you can take a tour of the cellars to see how the wines are stored in the caves at a constant 12°C. In the discovery area you'll learn all about viticulture and you can enjoy a guided tasting at the boutique with expert staff.

Find out more » Caves de Grenelle

7. Caves Monmousseau

Home to sparkling whites and rosés as well as your usual still whites and reds since 1886, the Caves Monmousseau is not far from the stunning Château de Chenonceau and is known for its great cellar tours. Underground in the caves of tuffeau stone, the cellars are an artistic journey as well as an oenological one with wonderful works of art projected onto the cave walls as you walk through the cool tunnels of what was once a quarry. The stone was used to build the Loire's beautiful chateaux.

Find out more » Caves Monmousseau

Best distilleries in Cognac

8. Domaine Rémy Martin

Poitou Charentes is Cognac country and the Domaine Rémy Martin is one of the premier producers in the region. The estate offers various different tours and tastings - chocolate lovers will enjoy the cognac and chocolate tasting or you can have a class in mixology to make your own cognac cocktails. Take a journey from the vineyards to the cellars, learn about the stages of cognac production and discover how cognac is blended.

Find out more » Domaine Rémy Martin

9. Château de Cognac

The estate of the Baron Otard has been producing fine cognacs since the 18th century at the Château de Valois. A 15th century chateau, the Baron bought the chateau on account of the thick stone walls which make its rooms perfect for aging cognac. You can tour the historic rooms, cellar and also the Baron Otard Museum in the chateau and enjoy tastings of the different types of cognac produced here.

Find out more » Château de Cognac

10. Martell and Co

The oldest of the great cognac houses, Martell and Co have been crafting cognacs for the last 300 years. Discover the story of producing cognac from vineyard to glass, as well as the heritage of this famous estate, with an expert guide through the House Visitors' Centre. Finish the tour with a tasting and browse the boutique which stocks all the Martell cognacs available.

Find out more » Martell and Co

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