Welcome to the heart of France! The Loire Valley is an outstanding cultural landscape of great beauty, containing historic towns and villages, great architectural monuments (the châteaux), and lands which have been cultivated for centuries. The vineyards of the Loire Valley are an essential part of this UNESCO World Heritage region.
The Loire Valley is one of France’s largest wine producing areas with names that are known throughout the world. Visitors come to visit the wineries of the Loire, from Chinon and Bourgueil in the west, to Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé in the east, via the rolling vineyards of the Touraine. Wines of all types are produced in the Loire Valley. You can sample white, red and rosé wines, both still and sparkling, often at a single vineyard! While many whites are dry and fruity, world-class sweet wines are produced in some areas and in the best years these will rival Sauternes in quality. Touraine Sparkling Wine is produced using the same methods used to create Champagne, but at a fraction of the cost, and those from Vouvray in particular are very highly regarded by connoisseurs.
The region is generous and welcoming. You can visit chateaux and gardens, in addition to vineyards and their wineries, depending on the season and your personal interests. Sites dating back to Roman times are open to visitors, while many towns and villages are open-air museums in themselves, with medieval buildings and romantic castles, ruined or inhabited, with beautiful countryside at every turn.
For the French, the Loire Valley represents all that is best about their country: the arts and culture, food and wine, natural beauty and superb buildings, with an enviable quality of life for those who choose to live here. Visitors will take back lasting memories and, who knows, perhaps a few cases of fine wine!
The temperate climate of the Loire Valley makes it suitable for visits throughout the year; the region is never too hot in summer and its winters are short and relatively mild. Harvest time in September and October is popular with wine enthusiasts but in summer the “Garden of France” is at its most attractive.
Visitors come for the day from Paris, which is just two hours away by train, but many stay for a week or more. The Loire itself is over 600 miles long with the most popular areas occupying a 150 stretch. There is so much to see and do that tourists return year after year.
The wine regions of the Loire Valley can be divided into four areas, each with different styles of wine to discover: Nantes, Angers/Saumur, Touraine and the Centre all await the wine-lover with a taste for adventure and the finer things in life. Each area has its own highlights and wine treasures, with the mighty River Loire never far away.
These areas are sub-divided into 69 separate Appellations, which classify, protect and control the vineyard location, the grape varieties grown and the permitted wine making techniques.