Where is Provence?Provence is a geographical region of southeastern France, which extends from the lower Rhône to the west to the Italian border to the east, and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The largest city in Provence is Marseille. Other large cities are Nice, Toulon, and Avignon. Aix-en-Provence (usually simply called Aix) is a small, classically Provençal town, about 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Marseille, famous for being home to post-impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. Aix is a popular destination for Provence visitors. Brignoles in the department of Var is the centre of the Cotes de Provence wine country. Provence is easily accessible by air and well connected by train to London, Paris and other European capitals. You can use local SNCF trains and buses to move between towns. See How to get to Provence for more information.
Wines of ProvenceProvence has the longest winemaking history in France. The vineyards stretch out over ever-changing landscapes, around historic cities, along the Mediterranean coast, and into the mountainous plateaux. Many ranges of hills protect vineyards from the mistral winds and provide a great variety of different site climates and soils. Provence is mostly known for its rose wines which are considered to be the industry standard. Cotes de Provence is by far the largest appellation. Along with Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence it produces mostly rose wines – up to 90% of their total production. However, if you are after red or white wines, Provence will not disappoint. The highest quality red wines of Provence are made in Bandol on the Mediterranean coast, and in Chateauneuf-du-Pape to the north of Provence. The regions of Luberon and Chateauneuf-du-Pape< are part of the Rhone wine region, but they are accessible and will be a great wine-tasting destination for red wine lovers traveling in Provence. Fresh and structured red wines are made Les Baux-de-Provence on the east of the region and in the cooler uplands of northern Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, where Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blends show a distinctive freshness and structure. Excellent reds are made in Palette to the east of Aix, where there is more Mourvèdre in the blend, reflecting a warmer climate. Other interesting red wine areas are La Londe, Pierrefeu, Fréjus and Saint-Victoire. If you love whites, do not miss Cassis on the Mediterranean coast just east of Marseille, where vines grow surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.
Wine Tastings and Wine Tours in Provence
When selecting your wine tasting destination in Provence, also consider how far you want to drive from your base and whether you want to visit historic villages inland, lavender fields, or explore the Mediterranean coast.
I have been working on the map of wineries in Provence and neighboring appellations that you may find handy during planning your Provence wine tasting tour.
If you are planning winery hopping, you might want to rent a car, hire a private driver, or join one of the wine tours. Some wineries can be accessed by local train from Marseille. For example, the wineries in Cassis are within walking distance from the train station.
Reach out to the wineries and set up visit times. Between 12-30 pm and 2-30 pm most places will be closed for lunch.
Many wineries will accept drop-ins for tastings, usually between 10 am and 5 pm with a lunch break. Some wineries will have time slots for tours, while others are quite informal, however, it is always better to let them know you are planning to drop by to avoid disappointment.
As always, I recommend organized wine tours which help avoid the need for scheduling, planning, and driving.
Private wine tours will pick you up from your accommodation in most villages around these cities, Luberon, the Alpilles, Toulon, Nice, and Saint-Remy de Provence.
Below, you will find more information on wine regions of Provence, wineries to visit, and the best Provence wine tours.
Map of Provence wineries
This map of wineries in Provence is not comprehensive, but I have been trying to include Provence wineries that are generally open to the public. I recommend contacting them in advance to ensure availability.
Provence wine regions
Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence
… are the 3 main appellations of Provence.
There are approximately 550 wineries producing 150,000 million liters of rose wines each year.
The wine region extends over nearly 200 kilometers (125 miles) between the Mediterranean and the Alps, in the Var and Bouches-du-Rhône departments, and one village in the Alpes-Maritimes.
The landscape is unique, marked by rocky and volcanic mountain ranges, fine sandy beaches and steep terraces along the azure blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
The soil of winemaking Provence is poor, but well-drained. The Mediterranean climate is sunny, dry, and warm. The vines can expect about 2,800 hours of sun each year. The winds, the most violent and well-known of which is the mistral, cool down the vineyards and protect them from humidity-related illnesses.
The rose wines from these appellations tend to be very pale in colour, light-bodied and dry on the palate. Depending on their origin, the wines present either fruity (white fruit, citrus, exotic fruit, berries, etc.) or floral character, combined with mineral notes.
Main grape varieties: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Tibouren.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Barbaroux, Calitor are the ancillary ones that can be added to the blend but not make up more than 50%.
Perhaps, you will be interested to read my article on How to Choose a Perfect Bottle of Rose?
If you are looking to taste red and white wines of Provence, you can find them here as well.
Côtes de Provence red wines are dark in colour and have one of two types: fruity red wines that spend little time in the vat and are to be enjoyed quickly, and wines to be cellared which have complex flavours of dark berries, cacao, venison, spices and powerful, silky tannins, thanks to longer vatting times.
Côtes de Provence white wines are dry, have a bright and clear yellow colour with hints of green. They offer fruity, citrus, white blossom, balsamic, or honey flavours. The main grapes for the production of white wines are Clairette, Sémillon, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino (Rolle).
Private drivers will pick you up from your accommodation in Provence.