At the Maison of Bergerac Wines is the inscription “18 000 years of art de vivre”...
Between the pre-historic caves, the medieval towns, fortified castles, romantic Renaissance abodes or the more contemporary eco-friendly constructions, the landscape's architecture is steeped in history. Setting the scene and centre stage are the vines that have been there for centuries in blissfully preserved natural settings, between woods, valleys and rivers.
3 million tourists opt for the Dordogne as a summer destination every year, in a region where 50% of the territory is covered with agricultural, viticultural or arable crops. Now associated with other sectors of quality products traditionally present in the Périgord (strawberries, walnuts, duck, lamb, truffles and chestnuts), winegrowers across the seven Bergerac-Duras terroirs are full of ideas for welcoming visitors to their estates and innovating in terms of wine-tourism.
By bike, horse, or on foot, for a picnic, a concert or sharing starred-chef prepared gourmet bites, there's no shortage of reasons to adopt the Périgord attitude! What are you waiting for?
Over in Montravel
Live the Renaissance at Château Michel de Montaigne
“It is not right to love wine moderately: one would think that you hold this gift from God in low esteem"... These words were written by Michel Eyquem de Montaigne from the tower of his old fortified house that these days is open to the public. The very same fort where he wrote his "Essais" from 1572 on. Just opposite a 19th century castle designed by Pierre Magne, a self-made man of his time, adds the finishing touch.
Currently owned by the Mahler-Besse family (Nicolas Mahler-Besse is managing director of the Seguin-Moreau barrel cooperage), the Michel de Montaigne château is working on ambitious plans for the future. In addition to historical tours of the tower and château (from €9), it's the turn of the 19 hectare vineyard to be restructured. “We receive 11,000 visitors every year who come to discover this magical place, filled with history. But the aim is to better exploit the wine-tourism potential, all the ingredients are in place, but there's still a lot of work to be done", explains Benoît Sébastien, the manager.
You can already choose to finish your visit with a wine-tasting session (from €16), lunch in one of the castles refurbished reception rooms (€70) or enjoy a gourmet dinner (€110). Every Sunday evening during the summer period a gourmet market sets up shop in the castle courtyard.
Château Michel de Montaigne
+33(0)5 53 58 63 93
By way of Rosette and Pécharmant
Périgord-style picnic and traces from the past at Haut-Pécharmant
Didier and Mylène Roches have always been adept at wine-tourism, “even before it became fashionable!" explains the frank-talking wine grower. In Haut-Pécharmant, the cellar is open all year round from 9am to 6pm, and the visit of the vineyards is open access, thanks to explanatory panels in front of each plot and an orientation table placed at the end of the vines, overlooking the Pécharmant estate.
After visiting the winery (with factsheets available in French, English and Dutch), you enter the cellars: behind the original ancient concrete vats visitors get to see a museum of vintage tools. How to resist when you find yourself in front of an antique copper-backed sprayer, or the first bottling machine dating from the mid-20th century...Then you finish with the tasting. With a picnic hamper if you wish, filled with typcial Périgord produce (hamper for 4, €30) that you can go and eat in the new picnic area. The Veuve Roches vintage (€9.50), produced using old Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon vines, has a spicy, alluring bouquet with well-ripened black fruits and supple tanins. Every Wednesday in summer, gourmet wine-tasting sessions are organised with canapés (Maison De Barbe duck) along with the wines.
Domaine du Haut-Pécharmant
+33(0)5 53 57 29 50