For as long as I’ve been traveling it has been a dream of mine to bicycle through vineyards in France. I could picture myself riding among vineyards and wildflowers with the sun on my face and wind in my hair… well, this year it happened. As if straight out of a dream, my best friend was with me and the day felt like it could last forever. How grateful we both are to have shared this and I want to share it with you, too.
When I first arrived to Bordeaux, France a decade ago I was awe struck by this gorgeous city, yet totally confused because I expected to be surrounded by vineyards. I laugh when I think about that day. The thought of returning to Bordeaux and it’s surrounding countryside still excites me, though this time I have friends who operate a bicycle tour company called Rustic Vines and they’ve offered to show me the countryside as they do it best.
They are based in the medieval village of Saint-Émilion, one of Bordeaux’s principal red wine producing areas and home of the much praised Grand Cru classification of wines. Wines produced here are blends composed of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Thomas from Rustic Vines (who couldn’t have been more thoughtful and in love with the local wines) took us on a private bicycle tour of the countryside for a full day and was thoughtful to photograph it for us as well. These bicycles are electric and have three speeds so it’s our choice how much effort we want to put in on the ride. After getting familiar with how they work, there is no question that this is the best way to experience Bordeaux’s wine country—with the wind in our hair and sun on our face!
Bicycling Among Saint-Émilion Vineyards
The three of us set out on a morning in mid-April with Thomas leading the way to a gorgeous castle from the Middle Ages, Château de Pressac. What a fairy tale location! Here we learned how they make their wine and enjoyed tasting three award-winning wines along with a plate of cheese and salami. Wandering their property I made friends with a sleepy labrador dog and soaked up the view from the nice hilltop vantage point.
So silly we were bicycling past vineyards that were in the very early stages of their growth season, eventually making a stop at Château La Croizille to pick up our picnic wine. Thomas had arranged an excellent picnic location and just like Mary Poppins he unpacked so many goodies from the trailer hitched to his bicycle; fresh baguette, almonds, dried apricots, fresh melon (canteloupe), cherry tomatoes, prosciutto ham from Bayonne, salami with herbs, a delicious confit, plus several great french cheeses. We topped it off with sweet canelés baked earlier that morning. All of it was perfect!!
Later, we were warmly welcomed at Château Bernateau where the proprietor Karen Lavau shared their unique methods of growing grapes (techniques to prune them for maximum fruit) and showed us the first growth of the season in their vineyards. It’s a very exciting time for them. Surprisingly, this is one of the few producers of certified organic wine in Bordeaux which some say results in grapes that are “more fruity and expressive.” We had the pleasure of tasting five of their wines including some from their second winery called Château Tour Peyronneau, a couple of which stood out as being some of the best wine we could remember tasting anywhere.
This has been such a happy way to spend the day in Saint-Émilion. I hope this is helpful if you’re planning a visit to Bordeaux wine regions, or otherwise maybe I could send a little bit of sunshine and wildflowers your way.
Thanks for visiting TrySomethingFun, and thank you to Thomas of Rustic Vines for the photos of our visit!