Best Bordeaux Wineries to Visit

Château La Tour Carnet
Photo: © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

Bordeaux's premier red wines set the standard by which other Cabernet Sauvignon- and Merlot-based bottlings produced around the world are judged. Its perfect combination of maritime climate (warm days, cool nights) and wine-friendly soils (gravel and clay) are suited to dry and sweet whites, too, though reds make up about 90 percent of Bordeaux's output today. Here, the region's best wineries to visit. —Richard Nalley

01 of 20

Château d'Agassac

Château d’Agassac
© Château D'Agassac

This Ludon-Medóc estate, with its fairy-tale castle begun in the 13th century, goes all-out for visitors, with themed tours and tastings that can be individually tailored by appointment, to iPod-guided adventure tours and treasure hunts for children. Check the website for wine dinners and special events. agassac.com

02 of 20

Château La Dominique

Château La Dominique
© Atelier Positif / Didier Bonrepaux

This Saint-Emilion Grand Cru has earned its place on visitors' itineraries not just for its fleshy, generously scaled, Merlot-based reds, but for its striking, new Jean Nouvel-designed cellar, a wow-sight in its own right just outside this UNESCO heritage town, but also one that provides panoramic views of its famous neighbors from its Terasse Rouge restaurant up top. Book ahead for cellar tours and restaurant reservations. chateau-ladominique.com

03 of 20

Château Franc-Mayne

Château Franc-Mayne
© Art Directors & TRIP / Alamy Stock Photo

In an area where affordable wines can be difficult to come by, this St. Emilon Grand Cru offers a genuine taste of the terroir at realistic prices, and provides a great base for touring with its lovely B&B, including a gorgeous landscaped swimming pool about a mile from the center of town. Other attractions include its extensive quarry caves and guided tours and tastings. chateau-francmayne.com

04 of 20

Château Guiraud

Château Guiraud
© F. Poincet

Here is a place to taste something unforgettable and completely different: The glorious, high-end dessert wines of Sauternes. This Sauternes First Growth from the classification of 1855 is not only among the appellations' most prominent wineries, but among the most hospitable. It's lovely, removed, tree-lined grounds are worth the trip alone (book ahead for a picnic in warm weather), but the tours, botanic walks and dining options can make the visit truly special. chateauguiraud.fr

05 of 20

Château Gruaud Larose

Château Gruaud Larose
© Arthur Pequin

One of St. Julien's most beautiful neo-classical estates, Gruaud Larose is also among its most visitor-friendly. The basic tour starts high in the panoramic tower and descends into the cellars with a tasting at the end. The two-hour White Path tour takes in the grounds and vineyards. Arrange ahead to have cheese or chocolate with your tasting. gruaudlarose.com

06 of 20

Château Kirwan

Château Kirwan
© Château Kirwan

It is worth checking out the website of this well-regarded Margaux Grand Cru Classé to see what sort of special events may be available during your visit—cooking classes with a prominent local chef, for example, or a workshop where you create your own perfume. There is also a slate of tours and tastings available, either drop-in or customized by appointment. chateau-kirwan.com

07 of 20

Château Lanessan

Château Lanessan
© Château Lanessan

A very stylish Haut-Medoc cru bourgeois property, Lanessan has remained in the same family for eight generations. Bargain minded drinkers know it for its reasonably priced reds, which are often outstanding values in today's Bordeaux. Others come for the beauty of it 20-acre English gardens, and still others for its equestrian history: Take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the grounds to the showplace stables and Belle Epoque riding museum. lanessan.com

08 of 20

Château Maucaillou

Château Maucaillou
© Christophe Viaud

This distinctive, concave château near the Moulis train station offers "The Medóc Vinoscope," essentially a wine tourism center of its own with a wealth of offerings, including a wine museum, wine classes, a gift shop, and even a handsome bed & breakfast on property, which is well-located as a base for touring the Medóc. chateau-maucaillou.eu

09 of 20

Château Marquis de Vauban

Château Marquis de Vauban
© Vignobles De Cancave

An historic château—the property's history dates back to the 9th century—in Blaye, its current owners have made welcoming visitors a priority. The château offers an array of activities including a tour in a carriage horse (10E) a "wine grower's lunch" (27E), and various tours March to November (the shop is open year round) that include visits to the nearby Citadel of Blaye. voyages-grand-cru.fr

10 of 20

Château Mouton Rothschild

Château Mouton Rothschild
© Deepix

You can visit all five of the august First Growths if you can wrangle an appointment, but Mouton is unquestionably the most welcoming—you can book online—and the one most set-up to entertain casual visitors. You feel how special this place is the minute you lay eyes on it: manicured vine rows, sculpted hedges; even the pathway gravel is perfectly raked. Inside, in addition to the range of stellar wines, you can visit the lovely Museum of Wine in Art, a former barrel cellar chockfull of treasures, from medieval tapestries to Chinese porcelain, and the room displaying the originals of the famous label paintings. chateau-mouton-rothschild.com

11 of 20

Château Pape Clément

Château Pape Clément
© Château Pape Clement

One of Graves' most highly regarded estates for both its red and white wines, Pape Clément is among the most accommodating of Bordeaux's grand châteaux (among other things, it is the relatively rare cellar open on Sundays). The visitors' staff offers a menu of tours, tastings, classes and even overnight stays at the château, which can be customized to your needs. bernard-magrez.com/en/wines/chateau-pape-clement

12 of 20

Château Peyrabon

Château Peyrabon
© Château Peyrabon

The fact that this property is owned by an international wine merchant (Patrick Bernard of Millésima) is reflected both in the palate-pleasing qualities of its Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines, and in the quality of its year-round welcome. Here is a stop in Pauillac whose wines—from the flagship La Fleur to the "second wine," Ch. Pierbone—won't break the bank. peyrabon.com

13 of 20

Château Phélan Ségur

Château Phélan Ségur
© Château Phelan Segur

Perhaps Saint-Estephe's most classically beautiful château, with stylish wines to match, this property, lovingly tended and upgraded by the Gardinier family, is a once-overlooked gem that has come into its own. It is also become known for its hospitality, with tastings and vineyard tours year-round by individual appointment. phelansegur.com

14 of 20

Château Pontet-Canet

Château Pontet-Canet
© Château Pontent-Canet

The Tesseron family provides a warm, well-planned welcome at this Paulliac Classified Growth estate. Book ahead (online or by phone) for the full treatment, in English, which includes a golf-cart tour of this handsome property, with its architecture spanning 17th-century neo-classical to 19th-century Eiffel-inspired new high-tech vat room. Finish it off with a tasting of the often superb Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine. pontet-canet.com

15 of 20

Château Rauzan-Gassies

Château Rauzan-Gassies
© Per Karlsson, BKWine 2 / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the Grands Cru Classés elevated by the classification of 1855 (it ranks as a Second Growth), this is a property in Margaux whose heritage extends back to the Middle Ages. A visit these days is highlighted by a unique "horizontal tasting" of three wines from the same vintage that showcase the differences between Margaux, Pauillac and Haut-Medôc. rauzangassies.fr

16 of 20

Château de Sales

Château de Sales
© Château de Sales

The largest property in Pomerol, it is also one of the loveliest, looked-after by the same family for 550 years. Its graceful, Merlot-based wines are among the more affordable in this very expensive appellation of mostly tiny properties and its second wine, Chantalouette, can be a terrific value. Book ahead. chateau-de-sales.com

17 of 20

Château Siaurac

Château Siaurac
© Château Siaurac

This right-bank property is tucked into an extensive park surrounded by age-old oaks. In addition to this Lalande de Pomerol label, its proprietor owns an estate in St. Emilion (Le Prieuré) and Pomerol proper (Vray Croix de Gay), making this a kind of one-stop tasting venue for fine examples of three appellations. Call ahead to arrange picnics, tastings and dinners at the hospitable château. siaurac.com

18 of 20

Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Château Smith Haut Lafitte
© Deepix

This lavishly appointed estate in the Pessac-Leognan area of Graves produces pricey, top-notch whites and reds, and provides a slate of experiences (basic tastings to "Art & Vine" tours to a chance to rub elbows in the cellars) that may be second to none. A further treat: The owners also own the Caudelie brand, and its Vinothérapie spa, with many treatments based on grape phenols, is right here. smith-haut-lafitte.com

19 of 20

Château Soutard

Château Soutard
© Tom Fecht

Saint-Emilion's Soutard is a rare combination of fine winery and fully-thought-out visitor experience, which includes not just daily drop-in tours in English from April to November, but a slew of special experiences like a chance to be a "winemaker for a day." It also offers a menu of activities for families and kids, including a "Safari Trek" and a "Young Mapmakers Walk." chateau-soutard.com

20 of 20

Château La Tour Carnet

Château La Tour Carnet
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

This 900-year-old château is a true "castle," complete with moat and drawbridge. Visitors come to visit in Saint Laurent for its wines, classified as Grands Crus in 1855, but a few stay on in one of the two elegant guestrooms, named for the philosophers Montaigne and La Boétie (fittingly there is an annual literary award ceremony here). Call ahead or book your visit online. bernard-magrez.com/en/wines/chateau-la-tour-carnet

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