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Travel journal: Southern France winery & vineyard tour

Posted by | May 22, 2015

This article details the highlights of an international winery and vineyard tour in Southern France from April 19 to 30, 2015, that was organized by the Washington State University Viticulture and Enology Program. Read on for information about joining us for the next trip!

An April tour was the perfect way to experience Provence, an area well known for its wine, incredible food and cultural offerings. Our group of 26 travelers gathered at the Hotel Roi Rene in the beautiful and historic city of Aix-en-Provence, which served well as the hub for the 12-day tour.

A gift of WSU viticulture and enology student-made Blended Learning Riesling for the host at Chateau La Coste.
A gift of WSU viticulture and enology student-made Blended Learning Riesling for the host at Chateau La Coste.

Washington State University collaborated with the Institute of American Universities (IAU) College in Provence to plan and produce the trip. IAU faculty and staff, including Wine Studies Professor Amy Mumma and college President Carl Jubran, warmly greeted our group by hosting a welcoming evening featuring Provençal wines and hors d’oerves. It was a very tasty hint of many wonderful wines and times to follow.

In wine production, Provence usually evokes images of lovely dry Rosés, but the area also produces some stunning red wines. In addition to tasting wine and visiting with winemakers about their production techniques, we learned about the different regulations of each Appellation d’Origine Controlee. For instance, the red wines that come from the coastal appellation of Bandol are mandated to be at least 51 percent Mourevedre, with some wines being closer to 90 to 95 percent Mourevedre. In the mountain appellation of Luberon, we tasted wonderful blends of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault. The wines in this region must be blends of several grapes. The wines in Chateauneuf du Pape also are blends only, while in Hermitage the only red variety allowed is Syrah.

The trip also included a number of cultural opportunities, such as strolling the medieval streets and avenues of Avignon and Arles and learning about their histories. We also visited the exciting coastal cities of Marseilles and Monaco.

>>View the Southern France Winery and Vineyard Tour photo album on the WSU Viticulture & Enology Program Facebook page.

Sign up to join future regional and international tours

Since 2010, the WSU Viticulture and Enology Program has been sponsoring an annual tour to various important wine regions of the world. These trips provide industry-involved people the opportunity to travel together for continuing education as well as enjoyment. Thus far, we have taken groups to New Zealand, Chile and Argentina, Italy, Australia, and France.

If this interests you, consider joining us for our spring 2016 trip to northern Spain and Portugal – Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro, and more. We will again be partnering with an educational institution that leads wine tours. And we also offer three-day regional tours. This fall, we will be visiting winemakers in Paso Robles, California, Dec. 2 to 4.

If you are affiliated with the wine or grape industry, or plan to be affiliated, and would like to receive information about these educational tours, please contact Theresa Beaver,, to have your name put on the email list.

-Theresa Beaver, WSU V&E Certificate Program Coordinator