The area around the town of Gaillac is one of the oldest wine growing regions in France, dating back to the Gallo-Roman times. The development of the vineyards was a result of excellent growing conditions; the heat from the Mediterranean combined with the ocean humidity of Bordeaux.

Here is a guide of Wine Themed Breaks – what’s on offer, how to get around and where to stay:

Exploring:
A Vitipass card from the tourist office, costing 18 euros, entitles you to visit a winery of your choice and 3 bottles of Gaillac wine (Pays des Bastides or Vignoble du Gaillac)
Tourist Office – Tel +33 (0)5 63 57 14 65 – – www.tourisme-vignoble-bastides.com

For visitors, the Maison des Vins in the heart of the old town of Gaillac is the ideal place to start, as its exhibitions provide visitors an insight into the history and development of winemaking in the region. Visitors can also have a taste of more than 100 different types of local wines during regular wine tasting sessions.
Maisons des Vins, Gaillac +33 (0)5 63 57 15 40 or by e-mail at info@vins-gaillac.com

Also available is a Vitipasseport when you arrive. It’s offered to visitors for free and allows you to redeem discounts on many restaurants, attractions, museums, as well as many vineyards in the regions.
Tourist Office – Tel +33 (0)5 63 57 14 65 – – www.tourisme-vignoble-bastides.com

Getting around and Visiting:
The vineyards are best explored by foot, and the area has many hiking paths. An 18km hike through the hilly vineyards just above Gaillac takes in the gorgeous scenery of the region.
Tourist Office – Tel +33 (0)5 63 57 14 65 – – www.tourisme-vignoble-bastides.com

For those who prefer to travel further afield by car, a scenic route des vins (wine route) runs through the vineyards. A map of the route is offered to visitors for free both online and in print, with details of all the winemakers that can be found along the way. Tourist Office – Tel +33 (0)5 63 57 14 65 – – www.tourisme-vignoble-bastides.com

Other tours include Circuit du Vignoble Gaillacois and Boucle de Campagnac. Both tours allow visitors to explore various vineyards and winemakers in the region and also take in the incredible bastide villages in the area; Penne, Castelnau de Montmiral, Cordes-sur- Ciel and Puycelsi.

AutoTour GlouGlou also runs a quirky short road trip by offering visitors the opportunity to hire a 2CV, a French vintage car. Lasting around half a day, the trip will allow you to visit two winemakers, with a first stop at the Cave de Labastide, followed by a visit of the Château Bouscaillous in Noaille, where you will be presented with a complimentary bottle of the locally produced wine. You will end the trip in Mas Pignou, which offers spectacular views on the Gaillac area. The trip costs 20 euros per person.

Accommodation:
The area offers authentic accommodation in the heart of the vineyards.

Chateau de Salettes – Located in the Gaillac wine region in the town of Cahuzac-sur-Vère, this four-star hotel and gourmet restaurant is built into the surrounding walls and towers of a 12th century chateau. Guests can make use of the on-site swimming pool and spa services and accompany their visit with a wine tasting session in the chateau’s own vineyards, available every day at 6:30pm.
A double room at Chateau de Salettes starts from £137 (€175) during peak season (1st May-September 30th), based on two people sharing. See www.chateaudesalettes.com/en; Tel +33 (0) 5 63 33 60 60)

Domaine de Perches – Situated in Gaillac, Domaine de Perches sits on a hillside, surrounded by four hectares of parkland and overlooks twenty hectares of vineyards. Guests can make use of the guest house’s swimming pool and tennis courts.

A room at Domaine de Perches starts from £117 (€150) per night including breakfast, based on two sharing. Visit www.domainedeperches.com ; Tel+33 (0)5 63 56 58 24).

Flight Information:
The most convenient airport to reach Gaillac is Toulouse Airport, located 66 km away.

• Flights with Ryanair from London Stansted everyday day during November and start from £7.99 (www.ryanair.com; 0330 365 5000)
• Flights with Easyjet from Bristol depart twice a week during November and start from £35 (www.easyjet.com; 0330 365 5000)
• Flights with Flybe from Manchester depart twice a week during November and start from £58 (www.flybe.com; 0330 365 5000)
• Flights with EasyJet from London Gatwick to Toulouse Airport will depart twice a day during November starting from £37.22 (www.easyjet.com; 0330 365 5000),

Gaillac Wines

The Gaillac AOP wine area has been awarded Vignobles & Découvertes certification under the name ‘Pays des Bastides et Vignoble du Gaillac’. The area covers over 3,000 hectares and there are seven grape varieties; braucol, duras, prunelart, mauzac, loin de l’œil, ondenc and muscadelle, producing red, white, rose and perle (slightly sparking) wine.

Some of these white wines (about 7 percent) are produced according to the Methode Ancestrale Gaillacoise method of production. Developed in Gaillac centuries ago, this technique involves a careful selection of the grape during the harvest and favours a natural maturation under close monitoring, without the use of added sugar.

Since 2011 some Gaillac wines are also awarded the Vendanges Tardives certification. Meaning the ‘late harvests’ and exclusive to Gaillac and the wines of Alsace, the phrase refers to the method of production in which the grapes are allowed to hang on the vine until they start to dehydrate. This results in richer, sweeter dessert wines the French like to pair with Fois Gras or the traditional Tarte Tatin.

For more information please visit Le Tarn Tourisme, www.tourisme-tarn.com/tarn/en

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