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lucy54 Mar 3rd, 2008 03:05 PM

Dordogne outvoted - starting over - Rhone?
Well, in the midst of planning a one-week trip for 4 in the Dordogne (and my talking about it for weeks) I'm now getting grumbles that it's not particularly "wine country" enough for the two men in our group. The men would like to focus 2-3 days on wine-related activities; the women on visiting pretty little towns and driving along scenic routes. We would like to do a one-week rental somewhere and do day trips from there. Any ideas that would give everyone what they'd like?
Thanks ahead for any comments and/or suggestions.

christycruz Mar 3rd, 2008 03:14 PM

Wow. Being located between Loire and Cahors isn't wine country enough?

Sorry for not being helpful, but I do sympathize with your frustration. Wow.

lucy54 Mar 3rd, 2008 03:23 PM

Thank you for agreeing with me... They would like to do wine tastings/visits to vineyards, and don't see this as the best location for doing that. I just have not had the chance to do much research on the Rhone valley region, so I'm unsure if it is suitable for spending a whole week, and also provide what the gals are looking for?

StuDudley Mar 3rd, 2008 03:41 PM

Have they actually visited many wineries/vineyards in France? Have they visited wineries/vineyards in the US?

Visiting wineries in France is nothing like visiting wineries in the Napa/Sonoma area. Here, (I live close to Napa/Sonoma), you just drive down the road & pop into any wineriy that looks interesting. You can do this 7 days a week. In France it's much different. To get a good tour & tasting, you usually need to reserve in advance - no popping in. Not as many wineries even offer tours. Quite often, all you get is a tasting. Also, don't expect wineries to be open on Saturdays & Sundays.

I would recommend the Rhone area around Vaison as your best bet. You can visit Provence while the guys visit the wineries. Hope they speak French - if not, reserving English tours can add another wrinkle.

Stu Dudley

lucy54 Mar 3rd, 2008 03:45 PM

Thanks Stu. My husband and I have been to the Burgundy and Bordeaux wine regions previously - but in both cases on an organized wine/group week-long tour, which is why it may have been easier/simpler to visit the wineries. We visited Tuscany last year on our own, and were able to just pop in to many little wineries. Guess it's not the same in France, then? Even if we book ahead via email?


StCirq Mar 3rd, 2008 03:52 PM

Oh well. Too bad they'll miss out on discovering Pécharmant, Monbazillac, and a whole host of wines they'll never lay eyes on in the USA.

I agree with Stu that the area around Vaison-la-Romaine would suit them well. There's a lot of "important" wine in those towns. Whether or not there are tours, I have no idea.

And yes, "wine country" is a different concept in France. You definitely don't just drive around and get greeted by happy vintners volunteering to show you their caves or vineyards. The guys better get on the internet and start making reservations

lucy54 Mar 3rd, 2008 04:13 PM

Are you saying that it is possible to visit wineries in the Dordogne fairly easily, then?

sweetannie Mar 3rd, 2008 04:39 PM

I'm just curious, in general, what the fascination is with devoting a trip to visiting wineries in France when there is so much else to do, and still plenty of time to drink great wine. We love the Rhone wines and have enjoyed some great Bordeaux, but what made our trips to France (and Italy) so wonderful was the opportunity to try world class wines from areas we don't often see in the US. We were wowed by the Pecharmant in the Dordogne, for example. My vote would be Dordogne or Provence, and build the wine around it, but... just my opinion. enjoy annie

StuDudley Mar 3rd, 2008 05:10 PM

Sure - if you reserve ahead for an English tour you'll be able to see a winery or two per day if you find which wineries offer tours. If you just want to taste - just go to Chateauneul du Pape & wander around town. Same with Tavel, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, etc. Beaucastel puts on a very nice tour - reserve a week ahead in season.

Remember, wineries close for lunch & on weekends also.

There are some very nice chateau wineries in Monbazillac in the Dordogne. It took us a few dinners, but we discovered some great Pecharmant wines while there also.

Stu Dudley

Michael Mar 3rd, 2008 05:58 PM

For wine tasting, the wine institute in Bergerac is worth a visit. It is by the river. Monbazillac has wine tasting. These are almost exclusively sweet wines. Wine tasting can be done in the Pécharmant area which is just outside Bergerac, but it is nothing like California wine tasting.

lucy54 Mar 4th, 2008 06:02 AM

Thank you all. I'm going to show them what you all have written, and do believe that they will better understand what to expect. The more I learn about the Dordogne, and our desire to base in one place, the more I believe that this is the best location for us. Thanks for confirming that. At worst, maybe we can split our time between the two areas and not do a rental. In any event, I'm sure we'll work something out....
Thanks again so much to everyone who took the time to post.

laverendrye Mar 4th, 2008 07:32 AM

I agree with the above comments that the Dordogne region should not be so easily dismissed. However, if it is out, why not consider Alsace? You'll find lots of vineyards and wineries, pretty little towns and scenc routes, certainly more than enough to fill a week. It's also compact enough to stay in one place and do day trips.

lucy54 Mar 4th, 2008 07:46 AM

Thank you Laverendrye - Alsace is one area I've not done any research on. I'll take a closer look at that region and see how it might work and check out postings here for Alsace. Appreciate your help!

StuDudley Mar 4th, 2008 07:55 AM

Don't be too quick to dismiss Provence. Along with the Dordogne, they're my two favorite regons in France. The Alpilles area in Provence (Gigondas, Seguret, Vaison, etc) is quite scenic.

We've spent 16 weeks in Provence, 8 in the Dordogne, and 2 in Alsace. I love Alsace wine - but the variety is much greater in the Rhone area. I also think the sceniery is much more varied in Provence than Alsace.

Visit Alsace next trip.

Stu Dudley

lucy54 Mar 4th, 2008 09:35 AM

So, Stu, in your opinion, based on what you like, would you prefer Provence or Dordogne if you weren't sure there'd ever be "another trip"? Last year we did part of your Tuscany itinerary (we spent 3 nights in San Quirico and travelled along Val d'Orcia and such) and loved that area, just to give you an idea. I recall that you spoke highly of that area and it was definitely our favorite as well. Based on that - Dordogne or Provence? Thanks ahead-

ira Mar 4th, 2008 10:46 AM

Hi L,

>'s not particularly "wine country" enough for the two men in our group. ...

Shows how much they know about wine. :)

"The wines should not be scorned either. There are the fine dark, almost peppery reds from Cahors, and both reds and whites from the vineyards of Bergerac, of which the sweet, white Monbazillac is the most famous. Pécharmant is the fanciest of the reds, but there are some very drinkable Côtes de Bergerac, much like the neighbouring Bordeaux and far cheaper. The same goes for the wines of Duras, Marmande and Buzet".

Chateau Monbazillac is what the gods have with lunch.

>the women on visiting pretty little towns and driving along scenic routes.

Can't beat the Dordogne.


StuDudley Mar 4th, 2008 01:50 PM

I like them both equally. I would not say one is better than the other.

Stu Dudley

annhig Mar 4th, 2008 02:07 PM

hi, lucy,

what you will find in the Dordogne is that there are a lot more little vineyards offering "degustation". also "degustation" of foie gras and lots of other goodies if you are lucky.

we rented a gite just outside montignac [just north of Sarlat] and found it very convenient for day trips around the region.

regards, ann

StCirq Mar 4th, 2008 03:45 PM

No, I wasn't suggesting it was particularly easy to visit "wineries" in the Dordogne, but it isn't particularly easy anywhere in France. I'm getting the feeling your guys are expecting something they won't really find much of anywhere in France.

You certainly can visit châteaux where the primary activity is wine making and do formal tours, in all the major wine regions of France, but they're not around every bend in the road, and you really do need to make reservations now if that's what you're looking for. What is far, far more common all over France is dégustations, which might be stores or outdoor stalls, or a market stall or some combination, where you can taste wines and ask questions. There are dozens and dozens of these in the Dordogne, as there are everywhere in France. You often get to taste foie gras and other local specialties, too.

If their complaint, as you originally put it, is that the Dordogne isn't really "wine country," and that they want to do "wine-related activities" and you want pretty towns and scenic drives, you could easily achieve that anywhere in the Dordogne, and it's very much wine country (though it doesn't have any famous appelations that I know of)

lucy54 Mar 5th, 2008 06:30 AM

Thank you again, everyone. The information you've all provided is just what I need to move forward with our trip. You can see how unclear our group (including myself, as planner) was regarding visiting vineyards/wineries in France. As I mentioned earlier, our past experience was as part of an organized group tour where obviously everything was taken care of by the tour company, so we were unaware of how it all worked. I look forward to planning our trip now having all of this very helpful information to use. And the best thing is, I'm sure they'll be thrilled to have the opportunity to try wines that aren't available at home. I have to take the blame for not explaining things correctly in the first place.... but now I know! Again, really appreciate everyone's help. Hope that some day I'll know enough to be able to provide some helpful info to someone else...

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