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Wine Tasting in Loire: Appointments or just drive up?

Hi! My husband and I will be spending 3 full days in the Loire, based in Amboise, in June as part of a much larger France trip. We are both big California winos--I was born and raised in Napa and Sonoma. We want to do some wine tasting in the area, but I'm unsure of what the standard protocol is. I gather there are many small, family run farm-style vineyards and I'd love to try them, since we don't tend to love corporatized wineries. Do we just stop at places we drive passed, do we need appointments, should we just book a wine tour and not worry about it? Would love to hear your experiences and any wineries you'd recommend anywhere in the region between Tours and Blois. Thanks!

Posted by
23464 posts

In Italy, at least at the better ones, we found that a reservation was required with the exception of a few road stand. Our limited experience in the Loire valley a few years ago was no reservation but I would check as our experience is several years old.

Posted by
1504 posts

There are family vintners in the Loire Valley that age their wines in the cool temperatures of the limestone caves along the river and other locations. They are actually called “Troglodyte Caves.” You can stop by spontaneously and taste what’s on offer. If there is no tasting fee, it is courteous to then buy at least one bottle to take with you. You should have a designated driver or, if you both want to sample wine, it’s best to book with a group tour. French law does not tolerate a driver who has a .08 % blood alcohol level as in California. The legal limit for adults is 50 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood ( .05%). For those who have had their driver’s license for less than 3 years, it is .02%. Since you’re from Napa/Sonoma, you know there’s a lot that will affect your blood alcohol level like weight, hydration level, when and what you last ate… but the last thing you want to keep track of is math when you’re winetasting.
You might check into a wine cooperative offering tastings of multiple vintner's wines near Amboise. The advantage is you can sample a variety of wines from a lot of different wineries all in one place. When you’re done buying your selections, just take a taxi or ride-share back to your hotel.
Have a great trip!

Posted by
2588 posts

If you are want to visit somewhere specific, call ahead. If you are just driving around, see the sign "dégustation" and want to sample what is offered, consider buying a bottle, and having a driver who drinks nothing. French language skills are a definite plus. Don't expect small, family operations to be fluent English speakers.

I would really contact the Amboise Office de Tourisme and ask about wine tours.

https://www.ville-amboise.fr/83/office-de-tourisme.htm
https://www.amboise-valdeloire.com/

Posted by
788 posts

These days most require booking, if they accept visitors at all. Probably the two best set up just to walk into are Monmousseau in Montrichard (a big enterprise, wine made from grapes that are brought in from growers) and Chateau Gaudrelle in Vouvray, which is smaller and family owned.

There are others, but nowhere will you be taken into the vines unless you're with a guide.

Try Laetitia Rey https://linqs.cc/laetitia.guidedtours

Posted by
27 posts

I planned a wine tour using https://www.ruedesvignerons.com/en/. A tasting room might be open all day, but a wine producing facility might only do tours and tastings at limited times and days. You can see the tours offered by each winery, the cost of each tour, languages spoken, and if you click through to scheduling, the days and times they're open. All payments are on-site, not in advance. With the help of Google maps I could allow enough time for driving between sites.

Posted by
788 posts

Most of the Loire Valley winemakers listed on rue des vignerons are at least two hours from Amboise. I wouldn't try a day tasting in Sancerre and then drive back to Amboise. The only place in the area you'll be in is caves Ambacia in Amboise.