When one thinks of Bordeaux, it is impossible to not also think of wine. With over 100,00 ha of vineyards growing 15 different grape varietals—everything from popular Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc to lesser known varietals such as Carménère and Mauzac—Bordeaux is unequivocally the top wine-producing region in France. Similarly, when one thinks of a Bordeaux river cruise, it is impossible to not think of château tours and Grand Cru tastings. Fortunately, on a Scenic Bordeaux river cruise, itineraries abound with both.
As they sail relaxingly down the Garonne River, a 570 km waterway that begins in the Pyrenees Mountains, wine aficionados can explore Château Guiraud, a producer of 1st Grand Cru Classe dessert wines with a history that dates to the mid-18th century. The château’s wines begin when the grapes are picked by hand, and they culminate after two years of maturation in French oak barrels. Guests can also take a cycling tour to Château de Myrat, a winery started by the Pontac family, which first began making wine in 1533.
As the cruise transitions to the Dordogne River – a 470 km waterway that is protected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Culural Organization (UNESCO)—wine-centric activities include a sunset tasting at Château Soutard in Saint-Emilion, where the winery’s Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon vines glow a breathtaking red and gold in the fading rays of sunlight. Other experiences include a tour of Château Franc Mayne and the ancient Roman ruins found on its estate; a tour and tasting at Chateau Gruaud-Larose, an estate that fosters vineyards that have survived since the 18th century; and a cycling tour to Château Lagrange, a Third Growth (Troisièmes Crus) estate that Napoleon III selected to be part of a French wine exhibit at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1855—an event that celebrated and showcased the finest French products and arts.