Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux

Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

We Found Wine And History In St Emilion in Bordeaux

We enjoyed walking around Bordeaux on our first day in port. The second day we planned an excursion to explore wine and history in St Emilion in Bordeaux region.

It was early on a Sunday morning when the bus picked us up. Traffic was light on our drive to wine country. After we exited the highway, the bus driver bravely headed along the single-lane twisty roads. We saw our first glimpses of the Bordeaux wine region chateaux in the area around St Emilion.

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There was a wine expert in the seat beside us. He fired questions to our tour guide as we passed vineyards and wine estates. He got quite excited when we entered the area where Pomerol wine was harvested. The bus stopped at the Petrus winery and everyone got off for a picture of the winery. When we looked at the vines, we saw they were already harvested.

Petrus Winery.jpg

A Walking Tour Of St Emilion In Bordeaux

The first part of our day for wine and history in St Emilion included a walk around the old town. It was a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999.

The rock in the area was all limestone and this influenced the wine harvested in this region. St Emilion itself sat on a limestone plateau with an empty moat surrounding the old town. We also saw the Great Wall standing in a field. This was the remnants of one wall of an old 12th century Dominican monastery.

Great Wall Grandes Murailles monastary remnant - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

Great Wall Grandes Murailles monastary remnant.jpg

Town Moat - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

Town Building.jpg

We walked through the hilly cobblestone streets of the town. Shops and restaurants lined both sides of the street. We went through the La Cadene gate as walked down through the town. Beside the gate we saw the only timbered house in the village.

Town Cobblestone Streets.jpg

Town Cobblestone Streets La Cadane Gate - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

Town Cobblestone Streets La Cadane Gate.jpg

Steep and uneven stones created pathways from the lower to upper town. These were called “tertre”. We were lucky that the rain stopped before we walked up this path. It reminded us of the steep cobblestone paths we walked in the walled city of Obidos in Portugal.

Town Cobblestone Streets.jpg

The view from the upper terrace looked out over the lower town. Red roofs were everywhere. The King’s Tower stood in the distance.

View From Above - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

View From Above.jpg

A Visit to The Collegiate Church

We started with a walk around the outside of the old Collegiate Church in St Emilion in Bordeaux. We were lucky and got inside the church before the service started.

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The inside was large with two front sections. Each section had a main altar with stained glass that reflected down on the altar. As we walked out the back of the church, we saw the remains of several colourful frescos on the walls.

Collegiate Church Inside.jpg

Collegiate Church Inside - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

We stopped and admired the outside cloister area. On one wall we saw a display of more modern religious paintings.

Collegiate Church Cloister.jpg

Collegiate Church Cloister.jpg

Collegiate Church Cloister Painting - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

Collegiate Church Cloister Painting.jpg

Collegiate Church Cloister Painting - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

Our First View Of The Monolithic Church

From the terrace beside the old Collegiate Church, we saw the large bell tower of the Monolithic Church. When we visited inside the Monolithic Church we saw the reinforcements installed underground to ensure this tower kept standing.

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The were 196 steps up the tower for a panoramic view of St Emilion and the surrounding countryside. We looked out and saw top of the front of the church carved into the rock.

Monolithic Underground Church.jpg

Walking slowly around the church we came to the front entrance. Most of the Monolithic Church was underground, carved into the limestone plateau.

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Head Underground To The Monolithic Church

Our visit started in a small private chapel. This chapel recognized the life of the Breton Hermit Saint St Emilion. Renovations in the chapel unearthed colourful frescos. No pictures were allowed here.

We then moved into the dark underground church. The large cavernous church carved into the rock was quite fascinating. We visited a rock church in Helsinki that was still in use and was light and airy. This empty church showed the remnants of the original altar, the new altar moved to the other wall and a small side altar.

Monolithic Underground Church Inside - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

Monolithic Underground Church Inside.jpg

Monolithic Underground Church Inside.jpg

We had to watch where we walked because of the dim light. But it was probably far more dramatic to see it this way than fully lit. Only the woman who was claustrophobic had trouble with all of the dark underground places we visited.

Seeing the two different churches was an interesting addition to our day trip for wine and history in St Emilion.

Visiting Chateau De Ferrand

St Emilion was in the heartland of the Merlot grape. So we were well prepared to visit a chateau that produced only red wines. Most of the fields were harvested. One field of Cabernet Franc still had grapes on the vines as they changed colour for the autumn.

Chateau de Ferrand Vineyard - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

After our walk through the town of St Emilion the bus moved us to the Chateau De Ferrand for our wine tour and tasting. This was the final stop on our day of wine and history in St Emilion.

Chateau de Ferrand.jpg

Chateau de Ferrand - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

The Ferrand guide gave us a brief introduction to the winery and the wines of the region. He then led us into the cellar. This room was full of barrels of aging wine.

Chateau de Ferrand Cellar - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

When we looked closely at the barrels we saw the year and varietal aging in each oak barrel. As we had learned when we tasted cognac in Cognac, the barrels had a limited life and were then used for whisky. Arrows showed the turning that was done with the barrels.

Chateau de Ferrand Cellar.jpg

Wine Tour at Chateau De Ferrand

The distillation room was made up largely of concrete vats. This winery used the concrete vats as a way to keep the wine at specific temperatures. We visited a lot of wineries and this is the first time we saw concrete vats.

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Wine was being taken from the bottom and put back into the top when we visited. We saw the red wine rush out into temporary storage bins.

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The tour finished in the bottle room. The classic wooden boxes of wine were stacked right up to the roof. We saw a wide variety of vintages on the boxes and bottles. This winery shipped to many places around the globe. They said we could get it at home in Canada and in some places in the U.S. But the Australians in the group needed to buy in the on-site store if they wanted this wine.

Chateau de Ferrand Wine Boxes.jpg

Chateau de Ferrand Wine Boxes.jpg

It was great to see a winery in St Emilion in Bordeaux.

Wine Tasting at Chateau De Ferrand

After the winery tour we got to try the wine. The guide opened bottles of both 2007 and 2010 vintages. We started with the 2010 wine. We found the 2010 to be much more acidic than the smoother 2007. David was not really a red wine fan so he didn’t like either wine.

Chateau de Ferrand Wine Tasting - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

Chateau de Ferrand Wine Tasting.jpg

But it was also an unfair taste test without a food pairing. When we did an Italian wine tasting we learned how much food changed the taste and enjoyment of a wine.

There was one other visitor that got a one-on-one tour while we were there. Their wine tasting was a much more educational process. It reminded us of how much we learned when we did a wine tour in Napa Valley. Certainly one advantage of much smaller groups. Next time we would consider renting a car and doing a winery tour on our own when we visit the Bordeaux region of France.

Chateau de Ferrand Private Wine Tasting - Wine and History In St Emilion in Bordeaux France.jpg

We were happy we got a wine tasting at Chateau De Ferrand in St Emilion in Bordeaux. Even if the wine was not really to our taste. But several people left with bottles. And at least one group had wine shipped home.

A Great Day For Wine And History In St Emilion

We had a very busy days on our day trip for wine and history in St Emilion. We started our day with a walking tour of St Emilion in Bordeaux. It was an interesting town with many historical sites to visit.

The wine tour and tasting at Chateau De Ferrand added to our education on red wines. There were many other areas of Bordeaux that specialized in other types of red, white and rosé wine. We will just need to visit again and find another winery that is more to our taste.

We still had more wine tasting to do on our fall trip along the coast of Western Europe. It was great to try cognac in Cognac in another region of Bordeaux. And we planned to tour the port houses on our next stop in Porto. While port was generally another red wine, it had the level of sweetness that David looked for in wine.

Have you explored wine and history in St Emilion? Did you find a wine to take home?

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About TravelAtWill 641 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

50 Comments

  1. This is wonderful timing, I have been piecing together a trip to France. St Emilion looks exactly how I imagine Bordeaux, I’m super excited to visit! So fortunate to find a field unharvested, the grapes on the vine with the leaves changing are gorgeous. I have had a rough driving experience in France but you make a good point about DIYing a winery tour.

    • I hope you get to the Emilion region of France in Bordeaux. There were so many wineries and great small towns to visit. We will definitely go back and tour by car.

  2. In these trying times, a post like this captures my imagination about vineyards, châteaus, rickety staircases and hidden passages. It’s so cool that you’ve had many opportunities already of tasting the best wines from different countries and regions. I hope I can do the same thing one day, someday!

  3. What a pleasant adventure! I enjoyed your narration of this whole experience. Beautiful images. I would love to take a walk through this old town of St Emilion and enjoy the history, architecture and the cobblestone streets. That great wall look huge and interesting. 🙂

  4. I always love the wine tours! Just toured a bunch in central Florida. Can’t wait to share. The best part is always buying your favorites to take home!

  5. I love going on wine tours because these tours give so much information about different wines and the way they are made. I definitely want to visit St Emilion. I also love places that have history. That Great Wall looks amazing.

  6. I only did a wine tasting tour in Porto but would love to do it in France. Your experience in St Emilion looks amazing. The old town and the churches surely take visitors back in time. Visiting Chateau De Ferrand, doing wine tour and wine tasting here also capture my interest too.

    • Porto was a great spot for wine tasting. But we could not resist wine tasting in the Bordeaux region of France. Our day trip to St Emilion gave us a great taste test.

  7. I haven’t visited Bordeaux even though I am a big wine person and I love France. Hopefully I get to go soon. But I have been to the church in Helsinki you mentioned. It’s called Temppeliaukio Church and is beautiful. Amazing how they can built these things out of rock. Looks like you guys had amazing time in Bordeaux.

    • I would climb those 196 steps to take in those views, only to be followed by a delicious wine from Chateau De Ferrand.
      Visiting the Bordeaux region is high on my list. I can’t think of a better holiday then getting lost in St. Emilion windy streets full of charm and history.

  8. What an interesting tour you guys had! I do like Bordeaux wine but I’ve never visited the region before. The ruins and the church are fascinating, and the history surrounding wine making is entrenched within St Emilion. I like the autumn colours here, it makes me crave a large glass of red!

  9. Even though I have little interest in revisiting France but I must say St Emilion in Bordeaux looks like a cosy beautiful town which would tempt me. Just my kinda place!

  10. You look so happy with your glass of wine – and after having been to St Emilion, too, I totally get you. It’s one of the nicest yet quite underrated day trips from Bordeaux. Obviously, I enjoyed the wine cellar tour, but the highlight was the church.

  11. I live in Northern Spain only 3-4 hours from Bordeaux. I really would like to go one weekend this fall. St. Emilion will definitely be a stop to add to the trip. I love visiting wineries and trying wine.

  12. Oh you’ve just reminded me of how much I love Bordeaux. I’ve only visited here for two days and didn’t get chance to see or experience as much as I’d like. I definitely need to plan another trip back

  13. Steps to climb for an amazing view? I’m in! The underground region of the churches must have been awe inspiring. You can see and feel the history there.

  14. We also saw that rock church in Helsinki! But St. Emillion is pretty…with that Great Wall, the Collegiate Church,vthr Monolitjic Church, and that Chareau you visited!

  15. St. Emilion is gorgeous? Absolutely love the idea of visiting the ruins while drinking wine in the Bordeaux region. We’ve wanted to visit France for so long – we’re thinking our ten year anniversary!

  16. I love Bordeaux wines but had no chance to visit the Bordeaux area yet. It’s a cult place in France and should be on the list of every wine lover. You had a great excursion to explore wine and history in St Emilion in the Bordeaux region. I think it’s a perfect idea to take a guided tour to learn more about this place. It’s great that you had a wine expert in the seat beside you. The architecture of this region is also stunning. It’s great that you had the opportunity to walk among those old walls and head underground to the Monolithic Church.

    • We loved the chance to see both the quaint small town of St Emilion and go wine tasting. But this was just a small taste test of what the region has to offer. We will definitely go back for a much longer stay.

  17. I can’t believe I did not make it to Bordeaux on my trip to France, especially because I’m a wine lover and would love to go wine tasting & visit vineyards. I didn’t, however, realize that there was so much history to explore in Bordeaux as well, sounds like it’ll be a great trip when I do finally make it there!

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