Self-Guided Bordeaux Wine Tour: How to Organize It?

Is it possible to visit Bordeaux wineries on your own?

Yes, it is possible to visit Bordeaux vineyards on your own without a guide.

In my experience, a self-guided tour in Bordeaux can be more challenging to organize than in other wine regions of Europe, as historically many Bordeaux wineries have been closed to visits, and while the hospitality culture has been changing, the region is still a bit closed.

In recent years, Bordeaux wineries have become more open and flexible. Today, many Bordeaux châteaux have dedicated wine tourism staff and offer engaging tasting programs.

What are the pros and cons of a self-guided wine tour in Bordeaux?

Let’s start with the pros:

Self-guided tours offer flexibility and are generally less expensive than private guided tours

If you plan your day tour far enough in advance, you may be able to secure appointments at your favourite wineries including the first growth wineries.

Besides, you can travel in your own pace, have a long relaxing lunch, and tailor the program to your timing and mood.

And the cons:

Costs for car rental, insurance, and wine tastings can add up, potentially making your trip more expensive than some organized small-group tours. For instance, I once worked as a Bordeaux wine guide on a bus tour for 19 people that cost less than 100 euros per person.  However, do not expect high-end wineries on group tours.

Another potential disadvantage is the time required to plan your day trip. Winery visits in Bordeaux are by appointment, so you’ll need to carefully schedule and allow time for visits, tastings, and driving between wineries. To save time planning your tour, you can use my Bordeaux wine tour planning service.  I prepare day-trip itineraries with winery and hotel reservations.  Just drive around and get the best experiences. 

An important negative point is that you might need to refrain from tasting wine during your vineyard visits.   

Recommended Small-Group Tour

  • Free Cancellation

  • 3 Wineries

  • Best Value

Which wine regions are the best for a self-guided Bordeaux wine tour?

If you have a rental car, all wine regions of Bordeaux are equally accessible. The road to the Médoc can be a bit challenging due to its narrowness, but it is completely manageable. Saint-Émilion and Pomerol wineries are accessible via a good highway, although driving within the region also involves navigating narrow roads.

If you are traveling without a car, Saint-Émilion on the right bank is a better choice, as it can also be accessed by train.

Here you will find more information that will help you decide between Médoc and Saint-Émilion,

I do not recommend visiting two wine regions in one day.  The driving distances are significant.  It is better to allow a full-day to explore one wine region in a relaxed way, enjoy views, gastronomy and wines.

How to organize a self-guided tour in Bordeaux?

Rent a car

Rental cars can be picked up at Bordeaux airport or at the train station.  I find rentalcars.com to give a wide variety of options.

As driving in Europe may involve narrower streets and chaotic parking at times, I recommend going for the full insurance paid at the rental office counter when picking up your car.

Make winery appointments and restaurant reservations

Call or email wineries to ask for appointments on your date.  

I suggest always asking them about their tour duration and then measure distances between your various appointments.  It is important to arrive on time as your visit may be cancelled if you are late.

I have found that these Bordeaux wineries are easy to book online:

Saint-Émilion and Pomerol

Château Balestard La Tonelle 

Château La Croizille – they also offer picnics

Château Yon Figeac

Château Cruzeau

Médoc

Chateau Lanessan

Château Haut-Breton Lariguardière

You can use Rue des Vignerons to view available winery appointments. 

For a self-guided tour, I recommend visiting two wineries per day and booking lunch at a nice wine country restaurant in between the visits.

Allow plenty of time to travel through the wine country leisurely, stopping to enjoy the views or have a coffee.

For a more relaxed experience, it’s preferable to book private tours at wineries. This allows you time to ask your guide questions and build a personal connection.

Be on time

Most wineries are well-mapped on Google Maps.  Prior to your visit, make sure to measure distances between wineries and arrive on time.

Typically, if you are 15 minutes late for your appointment, your tour is cancelled.

If your chosen winery is located in the town of Saint-Émilion, allow time for parking and walking to the winery. If you are taking train, allow time to walk up to the town from the train station.

If you are travelling from the city of Bordeaux, be aware of potential delays caused by heavy morning traffic.

Allow two hours for lunch

As you plan your self-guided tour, remember to make lunch reservation especially during busy season.

Allow two hours for lunch.  Enjoy your French meal and a glass of Bordeaux wines with an idyllic view on vineyards. 

See my article about Bordeaux Wine Country Restaurants which can be helpful in planning your lunch.

Resouces to planning your self-guided Bordeaux wine tour

To help you get the most out of your day trip to Bordeaux wine country, I have put together some information that will help you with your wine tour planning:

My Wine Tour Planning Service

Rue des Vignerons

A Guide to Saint-Émilion

Médoc Wine Tour Guide

Where to Stay at a Vineyard in Bordeaux

Bordeaux Wine Country Restaurants

Explore Bordeaux Vineyards by Bike

Whatever travel mode you will choose to visit Bordeaux vineyards, it will be a great day.  The region is worth a visit at least once in a lifetime.

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Polina

Hi, my name is Polina. I am a sommelier and a wine tour guide in Bordeaux, France.

I organize private Bordeaux wine tours.

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