Vineyards and heritage are inseparable in the Loire Valley! As can be seen in the troglodyte caves converted into cellars to age wine, and the prestigious Loire châteaux surrounded by vineyards.
From Sancerre to the Atlantic ocean, the vines of the Loire Valley wine region flourish beside a royal river. Famous names abound, with appellations that bear the name of the commune and a château. These include Saumur, Chinon, Anjou-Villages Brissac, Touraine Chenonceaux, Touraine Amboise, Touraine Azay le Rideau. As you head to a vineyard or château, you’ll fall under the spell of delightful towns or villages such as Clisson, Cheverny, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Aubigné-sur-Layon or Savennières. Be seduced by wine estates with a remarkable architectural heritage, but also by châteaux with their own estates within well known AOC, as seen in Brissac, Brézé, Montreuil Bellay, Valmer, Nitray and Chenonceau. Explore these fine estates, where wine is part of the culture.
Château de Valmer is a Renaissance wonder north-east of Tours that is sure to delight you with its stunning garden and Italian hillside terraces. This 30-hectare wine estate is predominantly planted with Chenin Blanc, the only grape variety permitted in the Vouvray appellation. The vines are tended in balance with nature, then bottled and aged in the château’s immense cellars. After your visit you can sample their wines, from dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet to sparkling.
South-east of Tours, and beside the river Cher, sits Château de Nitray. Owned by the Count and Countess de l’Espinay, the property itself sits within a 43-hectare English-style landscaped gardens. The estate converted to organic production in 2019 and has been producing a variety of Loire Valley wines since the 18th century, each within the Touraine AOC. During the visit you’ll get to see bottling in the old-fashioned way and taste its white, red and rosé wines, served with local produce. For the complete experience borrow one of their bikes to explore the Cher Valley.
A few kilometres from Saumur, Château de Brézé is a remarkable piece of architecture. Constructed between the 11th and 19th centuries, the château is surrounded by several dozen hectares of vines and boasts an underground fortress carved into the tufa rock. Produced there since the 16th century, its wines were popular among the major European courts of the time and cemented the estate’s reputation. The Château's current owners, Karine and Jean de Colbert, continue this historical winemaking tradition and now produce Saumur and Saumur Champigny AOC wines. This is a stronghold of Chenin Blanc, which finds a unique expression in the dense clay-limestone soil of Brézé.
Continue for a few kilometres to reach the impressive fortified town of Montreuil-Bellay where a walled château overlooks the river Thouet, flowing down below. With 600 metres of ramparts still intact, and 15 of its 18 towers, the site has survived in good shape since it was first constructed in 1025. In its historic 15th century cellars, the Château’s 16-hectare wine estate produces still and sparkling wines from Saumur AOC (red, white and rosé) and Crémant de Loire AOC (white and rosé).