When is the Best Time to Come to Bordeaux?

Visiting Bordeaux is a treat. Taste excellent wines, see historic chateaux and breathtaking landscapes and architecture. To make the most of your visit to this great city and its famous wineries choosing the right season.

Fall

If you are into wine, one of the best times to dive into Bordeaux world is September and October around the harvest time.

You can walk in vineyards and taste ripe berries of Cab Sauv, Merlot and Petit Verdot. I also find quite fascinating that you can taste berries, 2-day fermenting juice and young wine, all at the same time. Merlot is usually the first to ripen and be harvested and made into wine, while Cab would be the last.

At early stages of winemaking, wines of different grape varieties are kept separately. During our wine tours, the cellar master would let us try barrel samples of all these different wines and compare them with his final wine. What a difference between these lonely berries and the magnificent Bordeaux blends they compose!

During this time of the year, wine country is lively with international crowds of harvest pickers and tourists. Would like to join them? The French government recently announced that picking can be done by tourists as long as they are doing that as part of the touristic visit and not for a salary. I am waiting for the most prestigious wineries to allow harvesting. Wouldn’t it be nice to contribute to the amazing wines of Chateau Margaux?

It is typically sunny and comfortable at the end of the summer. This is the time when excitement about the new vintage is in the air. At the wineries, you will see grape bunches jumping on the sorting tables, working pumps, full fermenting vats with bubbly juice, nervous winemakers, spontaneous mini-labs and all sorts of winery action.  Things are busy, exciting and little messy. However, nothing makes me happier seeing everyone excited about the new wine than tasting fermenting wines, of course.

Fall temperatures remain pleasant up until early November. November and December may be quite rainy.

Spring

Spring is a wonderful time to visit Bordeaux as well. Vines are waking up. Blossoming fruit trees, colourful tulips and poppies are everywhere. Smell fresh grass, watch horses ploughing. Weather is usually comfortable but could be unstable with some sprinkles and occasional thunderstorms. 

This time of the year is special in Bordeaux. During the first week of April, wine professionals flock to Bordeaux to taste the newest vintage. This is an incredible experience, where all chateaux let you taste their ageing wines from barrels.  I tasted 250 different wines in a week including all the top growths. What a treat! 

Even if you are not a wine pro, don’t worry, we might still be able to taste wines directly from barrels on springtime Bordeaux wine tours.

Vines are flowering in May and June.

Every other year around mid-May, Bordeaux welcomes VinExpo, one of the largest wine salons. If you don’t plan to participate, it is better to avoid that week as the hotel rooms may be scarce.

Summer

If you are not afraid of heat, come in the summer. July and especially August in France tend to be quieter months. No traffic jams, plenty of parking in the city as locals flock to beaches. Enjoy a summer afternoon with a glass of wine in a chateau garden, observe quiet of the vineyards, butterflies, watch grape colours turning from green to purple.

If you come during the summer months, do not miss an opportunity to climb Dune du Pilat, the largest European sand dune overlooking the Bay of Arcachon, only about an hour away from Bordeaux.

Besides, there are other events taking place in the city of Bordeaux. Bordeaux Fête le Fleuve takes place in the second part of June. Free concerts, tall ships, fireworks, wine tastings on the banks of La Garonne are just some of the festival events.

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Winter

Winter is not the most popular time to visit. Rainy, windy days are not uncommon. However, bright, crispy sunny days are to be expected too. It almost never gets to a freezing point. 

Vines are in dormancy and the estates are mostly busy with pruning. Wine is already in oak barrels ageing and getting ready to be tasted for the first time.   

I personally love winter wine tours in Bordeaux – no crowds, everything is there just for you. Winter months, especially January and February is when the top wineries like Chateau Margaux may accept you to visit and taste their grand vin. 

During December to March, it is better to plan your visit for a weekday.  This way you will avoid wineries closed. Some restaurants may be closed during a few weeks in January and February.

Winemakers and staff are relaxed and you get all their time and attention, and naturally extended tasting experiences with excellent Bordeaux wines. Remember that Bordeaux reds are going extremely well the winter hearty winter meals – sirloin steak, filet mignon, magret de canard (duck breast)…

 

See average Bordeaux monthly temperatures here.

What is your favorite time to visit wine country?  

“There is always wine in Bordeaux….”

By POLINA


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