The oldest vineyards
2) Geography, climate and vine-plants
3) The wines of Côtes de Provence
This was followed a few hundred years later, with an even greater expansion of the vineyards by the Romans.
The Greek founders of Marseille, Nice and Antibes planted vines, along with olives and figs and other plants typical of the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Romans brought their technical know-how and engineering skills; building villas, irrigation systems and underground cellars, of which we can still find traces today.
After the various problems encountered during the Phylloxera crisis in the region, and throughout the vineyards of France during the 19th century, the vineyards were restructured to meet an increase in the national and international demand for table wine.
In 1955 the first steps were taken to recognise the quality of the wines of Provence with the designation of a small group of vineyards with the title “Cru Classé” (some 100 years after the Bordeaux region classification).
Over the years, local wine-making has experienced its ups and downs, but Provence wines in the 21st Century are increasingly popular, largely thanks to its world-wide reputation for Rosé.
The appellation now covers over 20,000 hectares of vines (approximately 50,000 acres) and has some 400 producers.
The vineyards of wider Provence stretch from due south of Avignon in the West all the way to the foothills of the Alps along the French Riviera, heading towards the Italian border, in the East. Besides the AOP Côtes de Provence, there a further six distinct provençal appellations in the region as a whole, including other world famous names such as Bandol and Cassis.
Past geological events - essentially the rise of the Alpine mountain range, and periods of volcanic activity in the Var - have shaped the landscape, with low lying mountains and hills, criss-crossed by deep gorges and alluvial plains. The vegetation is mainly a blend of Mediterranean brush and scrub land – the garrigue - together with pine and oak forests.
The intervention of mankind in the landscape, especially since the Medieval period has resulted in what we think of today as the typical landscape of Provence - with its fortified villages and castles; its individual châteaux and stone villas; its rural cabanons, dry stone terraces and irrigation canals; and its well managed vineyards and forests…
This diversity of scenery can also be observed in the geology, which varies from flinty soils and alluvial sand deposits, to limestone and clays, and volcanic rocks. These variations are also reflected in the subtly different wine styles to be found in the various appellations across Provence, and are what makes winemaking in Provence so diverse and fascinating.
The sunny Mediterranean climate with its long, hot, dry summers and generally short, wet winters is perfect for growing grapes.
The climate, associated with the different soils, and other natural influences - proximity to the sea, exposure to the Mistral wind - increases yet further the diversity in wines styles.
A day out in the vineyards with us, to explore the region and discover the wines of Côtes de Provence, is a day that you’ll always remember... and it could be the start of your own personal journey of discovery, and love and appreciation for Provence – its people – and its wines.
Wine Tours, Tastings, Private or Virtual Events
A truly memorable day out, either as a couple or a group of friends. Touring in comfort, come and visit some of the very best Chateaux and Estates in Provence and around the Cote d’Azur.
A private tutored tasting of some of the finest wines of Provence, and from around France – with food and wine pairings that will delight your guests and awaken your senses...
Unforgettable events in some of Provence’s most stunning locations – out in the vineyards – by bringing wine, food, entertainment and hospitality – in way that your guests will thank you for, forever.
Azur Wine Tours has created some new, virtual experiences that allow you to enjoy the wines of Provence from wherever you are.
Departures from Nice-Mougins , Cannes, and Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël :
Discover the vineyards of Provence and the Cote d’Azur with an expert wine guide.