Today, I had an inquiry from one of my service staff team members who is travelling to Nice, France, in the near future and was looking for winery recommendations for visits and tours. Now, I have not been to Nice, so that needs to be stated up-front, but I have been to France on a number of occasions, and have experienced various levels of tourism and winery hospitality in many regions; I have to believe that the wineries in Nice are at least the same if not a bit more up-to-date in their practices for accepting visitors as wineries in other regions. What I am getting at is that many wineries in Europe are not built or planned out similarly to wineries in say Napa, where there has been focused attention on destination tasting rooms as a standard for many locations.
In France (as well as Italy and other European countries) many wineries often fall into two styles: older establishments built up around a family farm or compound or other historical buildings that were designed for function rather than show, or new start-up / garage style wineries that are just tiny. More and more, though, we are seeing new wineries being built with visitors in mind, but the predominance of older wineries exists and are only slowly being modified - often as younger generations are taking over and seeing the benefit of having visitors come to the tasting room, rather than by appointment only and to an office. Cellar-door sales are also an important part of sales for many smaller wineries, and as such it is nearly mandatory to have a receiving area - even if it is small.
I was in Sancerre in 2018, and the Domaine DeLaporte family received us in their small tasting and sales room, which was a relatively new addition, and completely separate from the company office. I had a similar experience the past Spring while in the Cote du Rhone region and visiting with the Gerin family near Ampuis.
Doing some research on wineries around Nice, I did come up with a handful of places that look like they can accommodate visitors. All are within about 20-30 minutes of the city center, so should be good for day trips (see the list below).
If anyone has thoughts or additional places to check on, please add in the comments section.
QUICK NOTE ON THE WINES OF NICE
Nice is located along the Mediterranean and has been a center of trade as well as tourism for more than 2000 years. The wines you find in the area will be similar to the styles and types found throughout the south of France, especially the Rhone and Provence regions. You are not too far from the Italian border here, so there is a bit of influence on the traditional grapes from the Italian Riviera, as well. There are standard red grapes of these areas - such as Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre - but you will also find some other local additions such as Tibouren and Braquet, and even a few not expected grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon. For whites, you will find Rolle (vermentino), Ugni Blanc and Clairette - all expected throughout the region, but also a few odds and ends, such as Semillon and even some Chardonnay. The thing to keep in mind with wines from this area is that almost all of them will be blends of multiple grape varietals. This is a hot climate, and it is necessary for winemakers to balance their wines each year with different proportions and even different grapes to achieve a consistent style. The other big player in this area will be Rosé. This is pretty close to Provence, which is basically ground-zero to the Rosé style, so my recommendation is to find them and drink them - often, and with every meal. Most of the wineries close to Nice and listed below are in the AOP Bellet, which is the controlled wine region just northwest of the city and within the greater Provence region.
WINERIES TO CHECK OUT NEAR NICE
Booking ahead is almost a must, so contact the wineries ahead of your travel to make sure you have an appointment. Also, make sure you have a GPS, as roads, house or building numbers, and even website directions can often be difficult to figure out.
The website https://www.seenice.com/wine/guide has some decent information, but you should search the internet for the winery you want to visit ahead of time and make your plans in advance. Remember, weekends and lunchtime are not the same as in the US. Plan to be flexible, and plan to enjoy your lunch break every day. It's a matter of quality of life, and the French take it seriously.
Chateau de Bellet
Tours & tastings offered in a scenic setting with a stately old chapel & countryside views. Per the website, this winery looks like it is set to receive visitors, and has a number of wine styles to taste and buy. Call ahead for an appointment.
Address: 482 Chemin de Saquier, 06200 Nice, France
Phone: +33 4 93 37 81 57
Chateau de Crémant
Another winery with a long history to the estate, but recently refurbished to accommodate visitors and events.
Address: 442 Chemin de Crémat, 06200 Nice, France
Phone: +33 4 92 15 12 15
Domaine De Toasc
Located close to the city, Toasc is well appointed to receiving visitors. There is a a set price for tastings.
Address: 213 Chemin de Crémat, 06200 Nice, France
Phone: +33 4 92 15 14 14
This is a smaller family winery, making traditional, yet high quality wines. Definitely need to call ahead for an appointment.
Address: Chemin Collet de Fournier, 06200 Nice, France
Phone: +33 4 92 15 12 69
Vidivino - French Riviera Wine Tour
I also found a website for a company that offers winery tours from Nice through the Bellet appellation. This looks reasonable as it is a half-day tour with stops at several wineries, plus transportation and some tasting.
Explore Nice Cote d'Azur
You can also check out this website, which includes a ton of information and links to other things to do in and around Nice.
There are a number of other wineries located short distance from the city of Nice so it should not be hard to locate enough spots to fill a few days of sightseeing, touring and tasting. Make sure to find a great spot for lunch, and enjoy.
ABOUT THE Author
Brian Mitchell runs The New England Wine Academy, and is responsible for the content of this blog. With 30 years of drinks industry experience, Brian has learned a few things, but everyday he is learning more. This blog helps to bring that knowledge to you.