‘Portes Ouvertes’ weekends, when vineyards and chateaux fling their doors wide open to visitors are common place across the region. Properties vie to attract enthusiasts by offering different tastings, foods and activities. This year, Sauternes and Barsac did things a little differently.
Firstly, the Sauternes Wine Route made it really easy for visitors to find their way around the region and the different activities thanks to an interactive google map that planned their itineraries for them. But the real innovative was in how they encouraged sports enthusiasts to come and join the fun.
There was a multitude of mountain biking, trail running, Nordic walking, hiking and gravel e-biking circuits to choose from. Something for every level of competence, experience and fitness, including special events for children.
It was a fun and inclusive weekend of activity with plenty of delicious refreshments awaiting at all the different chateaux along the way. No one went hungry or thirsty!
On Saturday morning, three different trail itineraries from the 25km ‘La Sauternaise’, 14 km ‘La Sauvignon’ or 9 kms ‘La Semillon’. They all ran along the beautiful banks of the Ciron, visiting the Sanches nature reserve and through the vineyards with cross overs between trails in Château La Tour Blanche (2023 Regional Winner in the category “Innovative Wine Tourism”), Châteaux Haut Bergeron, Château Suduiraut, Château Lafaurie Peyraguey, Château Rabaud Promis, Château Rayne Vigneau, Château Lamothe Despujols and Château Filhot. With suitably sweet refreshments along the way.
The trail runners crossed over with the Nordic walkers on their 14km ‘LA CONQUETE DES CHATEAUX’ circuit who were stopping off at some of the same properties for visits and tastings
In the afternoon children took part in ‘Les Raisinettes’, circuits laid out for them in the beautiful park of Château Filhot, where a lot of the different trails and itineraries ended.
On Sunday, for those with any energy left, there were three VTT circuits to choose from, the 50 km ‘La Raison d’Or’, the 25 Km ‘Le Sarment’ or the 15 Km ‘Le Bourgeon’.
Covering the same beautiful countryside, the chateau were ready with their open doors, with the more enthusiastic cyclists venturing out as far as the medieval Château of Budos and on to Clos Floridène for refreshments.
For e-bikers, an ambitious ‘Gravel’ e-bike circuit was a new addition this year. Given the terroir here on the left bank of the Garonne, Gravel could have been the most appropriate activity of the weekend. At 9am participants on the 100 Km ‘Botrytis Cinerea’ had their GPS ready to find their way through the vines, forests, valleys, hillsides and châteaux. They headed down to Langon to cross the Garonne River. Once on the right bank, they cycled up the slopes of Sainte Croix du Mont and Loupiac enjoying the spectacular views back across the valley. Then it was down to the medieval ‘bastide’ town of Cadillac, back through the forests and vines of Barsac et Sauternes to well-earned refreshment at Château La Tour Blanche. The last courageous few continued onwards and upwards through the prestigious vineyards of chateaux Rayne Vigneau, Lafaurie Peyragey, Yquem and Guiraud to end back at Château Filhot for a glass of Sauternes and congratulations!
For the more relaxed wine enthusiasts, a tasty 14 km ‘La Croq’raisin’ stroll took them through the region tasting local wines and specialties at château along the way.
Wine Tourism Experiences
There was time for participants and observers to stop of at different châteaux, including many Best Of Winners, each innovating with different ways for visitors to experience the region.
Château La Tour Blanche was the starting point for a lot of the activities and to keep everyone busy they organized games, activities and grape juice tasting for children but also for adults with cocktail workshops, food and wine matching and visits and tastings on their beautiful Belvédère.
There were food trucks and guest chefs at many of the properties offering relaxed and more formal menus. Michelin star small bites from kitchens of the hotel were served with the wines of Château Lafaurie Peyraguey and 1 star Darroze was guest of honour at Château Doissy Daene.
There was a Brassero at Château Sigalas Rabaud (2022 Regional Winner the category ” Accommodation”) and Chateau Simon welcomed Chef Matthieu Vidal from Sweet Valentine in Langon and of course La Chappelle at Château Guiraud and the new Cercle Guiraud in the village were open.
Nobody went hungry or thirsty over the weekend even after kilometres of running and cycling. It was a great way to discover the region, the chateaux, the wines and the beautiful countryside around the Ciron River Valley and burn off some of the calories from all the delicious food and wine.
Wendy narby Insider Tasting