Discovering the vineyards and wines of Ventoux

Le Prieuré La Madelène - Seminars, guest house and cottage

Discovering the vineyards and wines of Ventoux

Bruno Pastouret / Post on 15 September 2021

In our wonderful little Vaucluse département (or ‘county’ in English), like everywhere in France, wine is part of our culture and plays an important role in our meals and fun times. The people here nurture a great wine culture due to the countless vineyards in the county, which fall into four appellations (geographical designations): Côtes-du Rhône, Luberon, Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Wines of Vaucluse and the Ventoux appellation, which our charming village of Malaucène is part of.

Before showing you some cool places to go and discover these wines, let’s first take a look at the characteristics and history of this appellation, whose vineyards form an arc around the foot of renowned Mont Ventoux.

The Ventoux appellation covers 51 towns, from Vaison-la-Romaine to Apt, the capital of the Luberon, by way of Carpentras. Listed as a “Biosphere Reserve” by UNESCO in 1990, the foothills of the “Giant of Provence” and its surroundings provide a backdrop for around 6,000 hectares of vineyards, with an annual production of around 260,000 hectoliters. More than enough to enjoy all year round!

Like in many areas of Provence, vines have been found here since Antiquity. Some of the very first vines in France were planted right here in the lands of our Ventoux. It was during the time of the Popes in Avignon that the Rhône Valley vineyards grew dramatically. The wines of Ventoux then quickly found themselves on the tables of the kings of France.

In 1900, the Côtes-du-Ventoux appellation first appeared and in 1939, the winegrowers formed a trade association, the Syndicat des Vins du Ventoux (‘Wines of Ventoux Association), which aimed to promote the qualities and personalities of their wines. This led them to create a Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (“Delimited Wine of Superior Quality”) appellation in 1953, followed by an Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC or ‘Designation of Controlled Origin’) in 1973.

These preserved lands (or terroirs as they are known in France) offer exceptional biodiversity, breathtaking landscapes and highquality wines, recognized as fruity, balanced, elegant sippers. The vast majority of the production (around 70%) is made up of red wines that are smooth, with hints of fruit and spices, and sometimes a bit more punch thanks to notes of leather and wild game. Rosé wines, with their aromas of red fruit, account for the second-largest share (around 25%) of wine produced in the region. The region’s white wines, with very floral and fruity aromas, account for the smallest share of production, around 5%.

Thus, everyone can find what they are looking for among these wines, which bring together enthusiasts and beginners alike and are an important part of our get-togethers and festive occasions.

Nestled in Malaucène, at the foot of Mont Ventoux and a few minutes from Vaison-La Romaine, our Prieuré lies in the heart of these vineyards.

There are a plethora of estates, wineries and wine merchants nearby, and during your stay we can tell you about some of them. Many offer excellent wines, so our suggestions vary based on where you are heading for the day, your budget or simply what you feel like drinking at the moment.

If you want to buy Gigondas for example, we will certainly send you to Domaine des Bosquets. But if you only swear by Beaumes de Venise, we will send you off to Domaine la Pigeade instead. We met these winemakers when we first arrived in Provence and we have placed our trust in them ever since. We love their wines very much. Just like those that we are currently serving at our guest house (and that we drink with pleasure!): the wines of Domaine de Champ Long and Mas de l’Oncle Ernest, both made at the foot of Mont Ventoux, near the small village of Entrechaux. They can be enjoyed à la carte or as part of our “on the go” menu.

Whenever we travel somewhere, we all like to do several different types of activities and find the little something that not everyone else does. Which is why we will now tell you about some wineries that, alongside their tastings, offer activities that are more or less off the beaten path. 

  • The Cave Rhonéa winery, located in Beaumes-de-Venise (30 min. from le Prieuré)

Offers many activities, including three that particularly caught our attention: a horseback ride through the region, cocktail mixology workshops and a treasure hunt. Something to make the visit fun, for the younger and older alike!

  • The Domaine de la Tourade winery in Gigondas (a 25min. drive from the Prieuré) 
    Are you a fan of spas and taking time out to unwind? This estate offers massages and tastings in the heart of the vineyards, with a splendid panorama! Or perhaps you prefer to ride through the vineyards in a vintage VW camper van or Beetle while tasting the estate’s wines? Just perfect for enjoying la dolce vita, Provence-style!
  • The Domaine Olivier Hillaire winery in Châteauneuf-du-Pape (45 min. from the Prieuré)

Though it is a little further from Malaucène than the previous wineries, the festive atmosphere this place generates deserves to be mentioned (especially at this time when we all want to go out and see people). In summer, this estate opens a pop-up wine bar called “les Apéros de la Crau”. Don’t miss this winery, where you can enjoy a glass paired with excellent platters of cold meats and cheeses, all in an idyllic setting with an unbeatable atmosphere!

  • 3 places to combine sightseeing and delicious discoveries 

For those seeking a gourmet getaway, many local estates give you the opportunity enjoy picnics with Ventoux-region products. These include Domaine de Marotte in Carpentras (25 minutes from the Priory) and Domaine du Chêne Bleu, with its “Chênobox”, in Crestet (20 minutes from Malaucène).

  • Finally, for a one-of-a-kind tasting, we heartily recommend the TerraVentoux wine cellar in Villes-sur-Auzon (40 minutes from the Prieuré)

This cooperative cellar is located in the heart of the ochres of Ventoux (yes indeed, there are truly ochres in Ventoux). Their Balade des 5 Terroirs (‘ride through 5 terroirs’) on an electric bicycle is a real pleasure. Riders finish the tour surrounded by nature, with an unforgettable tasting of wines and a lovely selection of local products. 

More generally, wine tastings are available at all of the 155 wineries and cellars in the Ventoux region.

Not to mention the fine grocery stores and quality wine merchants who offer invaluable advice on what to buy. In our view, it is in Malaucène, at Aline and Xavier, wine merchants and restaurateurs, that we always find just what we like. Thanks to them, when we arrived from Lyon to settle here, we discovered new grape varieties, estates and passionate winegrowers. Like us, you will undoubtedly broaden your oenological horizons and wine culture by spending some time in their beautifully-named cellar-restaurant, Au Fil de la Dégustation (‘As the Tasting Goes On’).

Here, we could talk to you about wine for days on end… but we must maintain a bit of mystery. It is during your stay with us that we will tell you about all the places we know and love. 

Bruno and Olivier

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