For decades, the French Riviera has been the vacation destination of choice for those who enjoy the finest things in life. Each summer, swathes of well-heeled guests, including celebrities and billionaires, descend on the incredible coast on an epicurean tour to make the most of the spectacular views, scrumptious food and exquisite wine.
Although the French Riviera has a reputation for attracting the Hollywood A-List, it is, in fact, an accessible destination for all. In the surrounding area, centuries-old family vineyards remain largely unchanged, offering visitors a chance to experience the authentic and charming traditional wine of France.
Château de Bellet
Prepare to be impressed not only by the quality of the wine, but also by the stunning scenery at this beautiful Nice vineyard. At an elevation of about 200 meters (650 feet), the cellar door of Château de Bellet enjoys an exquisite view over the sea and rolling hills.
It is so beautiful, in fact, that it served as the backdrop for the wedding of Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene.
Of course, the winery is befitting of such an amazing location, and the Chateau’s wine was also featured at the Royal Wedding. Producing mainly white wine, as well as a couple of reds and rosés, the tasting menu is sure to impress. The microclimate of this winery, including the strong winds, rich clay, and limestone deposits, means that the wine is unique and sumptuous.
Don’t miss varieties: Rolle (white), Folle Noire (red)
Château des Marres
Nestled between glamorous Saint Tropez and Ramatuelle, Château des Marres is a proudly family-run winery that boasts 30 acres of award-winning vineyards. The cellar door is found within a traditional Provencal building, which only adds to the traditional charm of this winery.
In fact, the winery has been run by the same family since it was first opened in 1907. Today, it is his daughter and son-in-law who are at the helm.
The soil here is rich in clay and sand, and the winery produces a variety of excellent whites and reds, as well as traditional Provencal rosés, which are a must try. During tastings, the staff and owners will be thrilled to talk you through the long and fascinating history of this winery, as well as their excellent tasting menu.
Don’t miss varieties: Cinsault (rosé), Cabernet Sauvignon (red), Semillon (white)
Château Saint Maur
A relative newcomer to the French Riviera, the Château Saint Maur is unique in the way that it has embraced new technologies and approaches to reinvigorate the wine it offers.
Owner Roger Zannier acquired the vineyards in 2011, as he was excited by the fact that this property has some of the highest terrain in the French Riviera, at over 440 meters (1440 feet). It appears to have paid off, as the excellent wine has already been making big waves in the wine world.
The tasting menu includes a variety of red, white and rosé varieties, and each is absolutely exquisite. Within less than a decade of production, they are already considered some of the French Riviera’s best varieties. We recommend a visit here before the secret is well and truly out.
Don’t miss varieties: any of the blends, especially the Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre/Cabernet
Domaine La Tourraque
Another French Riviera vineyard with a long family history, Domaine La Tourraque has been producing exceptional wine since 1807. It remains in the hands of the same family until this day, who continue to cultivate amazing wines.
Today, the wines are organic, and the family stoically refuses to use any pesticides during production. It is with great pleasure that they show visitors around, explaining their alternative methods for caring for their vineyards. In addition to wine, Domaine La Tourraque also produces high-quality olive oil.
There are a range of red, white and rosé varieties to try, with classic varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as more unusual grapes such as Tibouren. To experience a charming and traditional winery in the heart of the Saint Tropez peninsula, don’t miss this one.
Don’t miss varieties: Carignan (red), Rolle (white), Ugni Blanc (white)
Yet another exquisite family-run winery in the French Riviera region, Château Canadel is a traditional Provencal winery, but with a twist.
About 35 million years ago, a fold in the Alps caused the older, 200-million-year-old Trias Soil to be dumped on top of the younger soil. This created unique terrain that was ideal for winemaking millions of years later.
In addition, the vineyards here are in ‘terraces’ (known as ‘restanques’) and flanked by the large Gros Cervau mountain. This protects the vineyards from the rain and leads to a unique microclimate.
This unique microclimate has seen the estate produce wines for hundreds of years. There’s evidence that the Romans may have cultivated grapes on the property, and records from the 15th century certainly make reference to the vines. By tasting here, you’ll certainly be joining a long and illustrious history.
Don’t miss varieties: the Altum blend, 95% Mourvedre, 5% Cinsault.
Join our next trip to the French Riviera. We’ll plan all of the details, ensuring you hit all of the top vineyards and restaurants along the way. Visit our cruises page or contact us today to speak with a planning specialist.