Vineyards and heritage: 10 wine-related experiences in Carcassonne

Would you like to discover Carcassonne’s fine wines in an original way? Discover 10 unusual experiences for a memorable experience

AOC Minervois, Corbières, Malepère, Cabardès and IGP Cité de Carcassonne, Coteaux de Peyriac, Pays d’Oc… there’s no shortage of wine appellations around medieval Carcassonne. Of course, you could opt for the classic option of visiting a local winery and indulging in the famous visit/tasting combo. But that wouldn’t be very original, would it? Why not get off the beaten track a little?

We’ve come up with 10 different ways to discover the richness of the local vineyards. On the program: wine tasting inside a cave, winegrower escape-games, overnight stays in the heart of the estates, wine creation workshops, treasure hunts, mountain bike or horse rides, picnics in the vineyards… enough to satisfy your curiosity while adding a touch of pep. So, are you ready to set off and discover Grand Carcassonne and its wines?

Drinking wine inside a cave

Tasting the depths
vin Carcassonne dégustation verre de vin rouge gouffre cabrespine

Photo credit: Grand Carcassonne Tourisme

  • 💵 Budget: €14.90 adult entrance to Limousis cave
  • Duration: between 1h and 1h30
  • 💙 We like: drinking wine aged inside the earth
  • 📍 D eparting from : Limousis (20km away) or Cabrespine (28km away)

How much do you bet you’ve never had the chance to taste a fine wine from the bowels of a cave? Good news: you can enjoy this unusual experience near Carcassonne. Head for the Grotte du Limousis and the Gouffre de Cabrespine, two natural beauties less than 30km north of the medieval city.

Known not only for its aragonite crystals, but also for the prehistoric bear tracks lining its walls, the Limousis cave offers this astonishing wine tasting. And it’s not just any wine, it’sAméthyste, a red wine matured in oak barrels in a limited edition in the depths of the cave. To be discovered at the end of the classic tour, just to finish on a high note.

Not far away, the Gouffre de Cabrespine pushes the envelope even further. Here, 4 winegrowers have joined forces to offer a wine and speleology outing. Their 4 cuvées, aged inside the cave and all bearing the Zérophyto label, can be tasted during an underground stroll. An original way to explore one of Europe’s most visited caves, don’t you think? Please note that this event only takes place in summer. But you can also sample these unexpected vintages at the end of the classic tour. Whichever you choose, don’t forget your woolly jacket and good shoes.

Discover winegrower escape games

For a moment of fun in a wine-growing environment
vins carcassonne escape game vigneron dans les vignes

Photo credit: Grand Carcassonne Tourisme

  • 💵 Budget: 10€ for Château Guilhem and from 20€ to 50€ depending on the number of players for Mas K
  • Duration: 60 minutes for Château Guilhem and 90 minutes for Mas K
  • 💙 We like: having to play on collective strength amidst the vines
  • 📍 F rom: Château Guilhem is about 28km and Mas K is 09km away.

In the « unusual vineyard discovery » category, there are also escape-games. These escape games have been very popular in France for some years now. And with good reason: they involve solving a series of enigmas with family or friends in a life-size setting, with a time limit of 1 hour. In other words, they’re synonymous with fun times to share!

One estate in particular has come up with a themed escape-game in the heart of its vineyards: Château Guilhem. Nestled in the Malepère mountains, this family-run, eco-responsible estate challenges gamers’ minds with an unusual investigation. Can you find the oenologist who mysteriously disappeared from the Château’s cellar before time runs out? Tic, tac, tic, tac …

In the same style is Mas K, just 8km from Carcassonne. The setting consists ofold wine vats transformed into an eccentric universe. But this time, the enigma is quite different: the disturbing Mr K takes you into the intricacies of a secret anarchist organization in the absence of the owners. You’ll need keen observation and unfailing cooperation to get out of this predicament. It’s up to you.

Mountain biking in the vineyards and treasure hunts

Sport, mystery and delicacies
vin Carcassonne randonnée VTT dans les vignes

Photo credit: Grand Carcassonne Tourisme

  • 💵 Budget: €15 bike ride (€30 including bike rental) and €20 treasure hunt
  • Duration: 2h30 for the mountain bike ride and 3h30 for the treasure hunt
  • 💙 We like: being able to play investigator in a vineyard
  • 📍 Nearest town: commune de Laure-Minervois (20km away)

For those who want to vary the pleasures, there’s the Domaine de Fontanille Haut, just a 30-minute drive from the town. This organically-farmed estate (which has also been awarded the Qualité Tourisme Occitanie Sud de France label) has come up with several ways to discover its land. Do you prefer a classic tour, a mountain bike ride through the vineyards or a treasure hunt?

Joan, the estate’s winemaker and mountain bike instructor, offers us this second option. It’s the perfect way to get some exercise in a pleasant setting and learn a lot about organic farming in the process. What’s more, the final wine tasting, just after the ride, is accompanied by some great local produce. Food lovers beware!

Do you have a playful spirit? Then this treasure hunt is for you. Use your sense of direction to unearth the hiding places of the riddles scattered around the vineyards and find Fontanille’s lost treasure. It’s an experience that’s sure to please the adventurous.

Learn the art of wine tasting

Like a true oenologist
vins Carcassonne atelier dégustation et initiation chateau amiral

Photo credit: Grand Carcassonne Tourisme

  • 💵 B udget: 60€ for the on-site workshop and 48€ for the tasting package
  • Duration: 2h30 for on-site initiation and 2h for tasting via Zoom
  • 💙 We love: learning about tasting in the company of the owners
  • 📍 Nearest town: Aigues Vives (20km away)

Head to Château l’Amiral for an introduction to the art of wine tasting. As the painter Dali once said:  » He who knows how to taste never drinks wine again, but tastes its sweet secrets « . And it’s Bénédicte, owner of the estate and also an oenologist, who welcomes us in person for this discovery experience. Family outing? No problem, as the kids have fun feeding the estate’s goats and pigs, while the parents enjoy their meal.

Nestled in the heart of the Minervois region, the domaine also organizes remote tastings. Yes, it does exist! Château l’Amiral is one of the few wineries to do so. All you have to do is order the tasting kit (comprising 6 wine samples and all the necessary equipment), then sign up for the next session on Zoom. There’s no stopping progress.

Create your own wine and treat yourself to a dose of art

To fill up on creativity
vins Carcassonne atelier vigneron château auzias

Photo credit: Grand Carcassonne Tourisme

  • 💵 B udget: gallery on free admission, €55 for assembly workshop
  • Duration: 3h
  • 💙 We like: discovering great artists and being able to take home a bottle of your own wine.
  • 📍 Nearest town: Pennautier (7km away)

Are you an art lover? Then visit Château d’Auzias, which has the unique feature of housing an art gallery run by an Argentinian designer at the very heart of the estate. Named Poli, the artist invites us into her cosy « multispace », where wine tasting and temporary exhibitions by artists of all kinds are combined.

Château d’Auzias has another special feature – and not the least. Here, you can make your own wine thanks to a blending workshop! After the tour, the workshop begins with an introduction to wine tasting. Then, equipped with two single-varietal wines and appropriate test tubes, you assemble your own wine in several trials. All that’s left to do is cork your bottle, stick on your personalized label and you’re ready to go. It’s great to be able to take your bottle home with you!

Take part in a wine & cheese workshop

The right combo for gourmets
vins carcassonne atelier accords vin & fromag

Photo credit: Grand Carcassonne Tourisme

  • 💵 B udget: €19
  • Duration: between 1h and 1h15
  • 💙 We love: discovering a century-old vineyard
  • 📍 Nearest town: Pennautier (7km from Carcassonne)

There’s the art of wine tasting, and then there’s the art of wine pairing. Particularly with another key element of French gastronomy: cheese. For lovers of good wine and good cheese, the Château de Pennautier is opening its doors for a workshop on wine and cheese pairing. On the menu: 3 cheeses, 4 wines and a visit to the winery. The perfect way to get your taste buds tingling. Meet at the estate’s restaurant, La Table du Château de Pennautier.

Why not take the opportunity to take a look around? After all, it’s a jewel in the crown of our local heritage. The former home of Bernard Rech de Pennautier, Treasurer of the States of Languedoc, the Château de Pennautier stands out for its impressive size. Its garden is equally impressive, and has been awarded the prestigious  » Jardin Remarquable » label. In short, it’s an impressive place to be.

Discover the vineyards on horseback

For lovers of unusual hikes
vins Carcassonne ferme équestre du Plo balade à cheval dans les vignobles

Photo credit: Grand Carcassonne Tourisme

  • 💵 B udget : from €70
  • Duration: 1 to 3 days
  • 💙Welike: a choice of circuits
  • 📍 Nearest town: Val de Dagne (25km from Carcassonne)

Fancy visiting Cathar country on horseback? Ferme Equestre du Plo, located in Val de Dagne (30 minutes from Carcassonne), offers just that. Specializing in equestrian tourism since 1966, this small family-runbusiness has the advantage of being able to offer a wide range of tours to discover the Corbières region. Alizée, a proud rider from the last generation, leads the way.

Alizée takes us on tours lasting one or more days around the Corbières vineyards, passing through the Alaric, Coque, Côtes and Lauza massifs. These include Cellier des Troubadours and Clos de l’Enhel. The icing on the cake: the horseback ride is complemented by tastings of local wines, picnics and meals based on local gastronomy. The perfect way to immerse yourself in the culture of the Aude.

Picnicking in the vineyards

For 100% terroir immersion
vin Carcassonne pique nique château Pennautier

Photo credit: Grand Carcassonne Tourisme

  • 💵 Budget : from €25 for a packed lunch
  • Duration: one hour or more
  • 💙Welove: tasting local produce in the sunshine
  • 📍 Nearest town: Pennautier (7km away)

Fancy a picnic in the sunshine among the Languedoc vines? Just the thing, there are several wineries around Carcassonne where you can enjoy a simple lunch. There are two options: bring your own picnic or take a packed lunch prepared by the winery team with the scent of the Aude region.

If you prefer the first option, head for the grounds of Château de Pennautier. Some call it  » the little Versailles « , such is its imposing stature. As for its garden, it’s a heritage-listed marvel – and a most pleasant setting for an al fresco lunch. Do you prefer the second option? Château Guilhem prepares a gourmet basket for €25 (including, of course, the estate’s vintages). Alternatively, head to Château Borie-Neuve for a tailor-made tour that combines a picnic with wine tasting and a visit to the cellar.

Wine tasting while admiring the ramparts Carcassonne

Aperitif against a historical backdrop
vin carcassonne comptoir de la cité terrasse dégustation de vin

Photo credit: Grand Carcassonne Tourisme

  • 💵 B udget: from €5 per glass
  • Duration: tasting time
  • 💙Welike: a glass of IGP Carcassonne with the ramparts in the background
  • 📍 Nearest town: Pennautier (7km away)

More tempted by a wine tasting overlooking the imposing ramparts of Carcassonne? We understand. With its 52 towers and 2 walls, this imposing medieval city is one of the most beautiful in Europe. And while there are several vantage points where you can indulge in such an experience, two of them are particularly popular. These are the Comptoir de la Cité and the Caveau du Domaine Lycée Charlemagne.

Located at the foot of the Cité, the Comptoir de la Cité is a former Palais in the purest « Belle Époque » style, listed as a Monument Historique. Here, Foncalieu vineyards introduce visitors to their range of wines from the Occitanie region, as well as a local selection of rare spirits and local produce. Not bad at all for a local aperitif after exploring the heart of the medieval old town, eh?

Alternatively, there’s the Caveau du Domaine Lycée Charlemagne. Producer (among others) of the IGP Cité de Carcassonne and in the process of converting to organic farming, this agricultural estate has more than one enthusiast. We appreciate its expertise, its panoramic view of the Cité de Carcassonne, not forgetting the unlikely fresco painted by artist Antoine Harillo entitled « l’Ode de l’Aude au vin ».

Sleep in an oenolodge

A night in the heart of the organic vineyard
vins Carcassonne séjour dans un oenolodge

Photo credit: Grand Carcassonne Tourisme

  • 💵 B udget: from €150 per night for Domaine de Siestou and €230 per night for Domaine de Brau
  • Capacity: 5 people for Siestou and 4 people for Brau
  • 💙 We like: waking up to a view of the vineyards
  • 📍 Nearest towns: Laure-Minervois (20km) and Villemoustaussou (10km)

Finally, there’s a concept that allows wine lovers to sleep on the grounds of a wine estate: the oenolodge. The Domaine du Siestou, about 30 minutes from Carcassonne, offers fully-equipped safari tents overlooking the Minervois vineyards. Bonus: a private SPA on the terrace where you can relax at your leisure. Perfect for visiting the cellar and picking up some good wines without having to go far!

The Domaine de Brau has also invested in this type of unusual accommodation. Like the Domaine de Siestou, this one is committed to organic viticulture and is only 8km from the Cité. Its lodges are in fact former industrial containers rehabilitated as modern eco-lodges, featuring inertia heating & low-energy water heaters as well as a bioclimatic pergola on the terrace. An original, eco-responsible experience without compromising on comfort.

You’d never know there were so many unusual wine experiences in Carcassonne, would you? We hope you’ll find what you’re looking for in this eclectic selection.