At Winalist we do not like to put labels on things or people, but we think that it’ll be very useful for you to know some of these labels to navigate through what wine tourism can offer in our beautiful country! In this article we tell you about the main labels wine tourists can find in France.
First, what is a label?
A label is a sign that identifies products or services that meet specific rules of origin, way of production or quality standards. While within the tourism industry the labels are highly regulated at a national level, in the wine tourism industry, most of the labels arise from a local level. Thus, what each local label means or even their conditions of granting are different according to their areas, which makes their understanding harder. In addition, wine tourism is a field that appeals to a lot of industries so its practitioners may face many labels! Below is a useful overview.
The national labels:
You can find them all over France. These labels ensure some unity of information within the wine tourism offer.
- The wine tourism label
Vignobles et Découverte (Vineyards and Discovery): established in 2009 by the Ministry of Tourism and Agriculture, this label identifies destinations in vineyards that enable tourists to discover wine through stays, provisions, visits and events. The label lasts 3 years and can be renewed. The label recipients commit themselves to respect the label’s criteria as well as a responsible consumption. This label is awarded by Atout France, the Tourism Development Agency of France, and aims at promoting quality products that are in line with wine tourists’ new expectations and practices.
To this label we can add Les Routes du Vin (The wine routes) but these can’t make a label as each wine areas of France gives its own name and logo to its route. However, each of the wine routes are recognized at a national level and they are located by numerous signs on state and local roads. See here our article on the French wine routes
- Tourist accommodation labels linked to the wine industry
The main tourist accommodation labels created a branch specialized in wine tourism accommodation. Some other labels, such as France Passion, aim at more specific clients.
Clévacances – Autour du vin: this “rentals and guest rooms” label can be found on many types of accommodations throughout major French tourism sites. The branch “Autour du vin” (around wine) identifies any property located on a vineyard of which the owner can offer visits and tastings, on his own vineyard or on a neighboring property.
Logis – Bacchus: The Logis hotels have been present in France and Europe for 60 years and each of the Bacchus Logis hotels can provide tourists with wine tastings, walks though vineyards, vine varieties presentations or visits, among other wine discovery activities.
Les gîtes de France (France’s cottages) pairs with winegrowers to provide clients with a high-quality welcome in vineyards. These associations between the accommodation label and the winegrowers federate more than 300 providers in France, but they all have their own labels according to the winegrowing area.
France Passion : une formule pour les camping-caristes. 1800 vignerons, fermiers et artisans proposent un stationnement libre et gratuit dans toutes les régions de France pour les amateurs d’étapes gourmandes au cœur des vignobles et des campagnes de France. L’adhésion est de 29€, prix du Guide des étapes de l’année en cours sur le site de France Passion.
- Labels for people and places that enhance wine
The Grand Prix of the wine press in restaurants is awarded by the Association of Wine Press (“Association de la Presse du Vin” in French) that nationally honors restaurants according to their wine offer, their prices, their wine lists layout, or their initiatives to promote wine sales and services in restaurants.
Les sites remarquables du goût (SRG – translated Remarkable Taste Sites) enhances emblematic products and shows to their visitors the links between the product, the cultural heritage, the landscapes, and the men work that shapes them. In Champagne, the town of Epernay received the label and Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhône region was awarded in September 2006.
- The labels of origin or conditions of production of a wine
The organic label “AB” ensures a product’s quality due to a method of production environmentally friendly and respectful of animal welfare.
The controlled and the protected designation of origin (AOC and AOP for the French acronyms) labels acknowledge that a given product’s manufacturing steps are carried out in the same geographical area and according to a unique and recognized know-how. They protect the quality of the product and stands for authenticity for wine lovers. In 2010 they were 293 wines classified with the AOC label.
Vignerons indépendant is a movement of which you can find the logo on bottles of wine or located at vineyards entrance. It shows that the winegrower belongs to this trade union and signed its charter (that claims the respect for traditions, wine work and hospitality at the vineyard, for example). Today this union brings together about 7000 winemakers!
Regional wine tourism labels:
Regional initiatives are very numerous so we decided to give you the main ones.
In the Rhône region, this label identifies and grade (from one to three leaves) tasting places according the hospitality and the services offered to wine tourists.
Created in 2004 by the Regional Council of Aquitaine, the Regional Committee of Tourism and wine professional organizations, this label has 1000 members in the Bordeaux region. They all signed a charter of commitment to criteria defining the quality of the services towards wine tourists.
In Gironde (Bordeaux region), this label brings together 496 properties, trading houses or cooperative wineries that also signed the label’s charter of quality for the reception of visitors. The latter will find free cellar visits and free wine tasting on site, on “Vignobles et Chais bordelais” labeled vineyards.
This is more an award rather than a label but this prize is given by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network and is known worldwide. In France though, the challenge only concerns the Bordeaux region so the Network only rewards the wine-producing properties and providers of wine tourism services in Aquitaine.
In Burgundy 311 wine growers, cooperative wineries and trading houses have joined the “De Vignes en Caves” (from vines to cellars) welcome charter of the Burgundy Wine Association.
The Winalist team hopes that now you will see clear when choosing your next visit or bottle. Labels offer valuable information but still, incomplete. For example, only half of the French departments on which vineyards are located, offer a nationally labeled destination “Vignobles & Découvertes”. Thus, for further information, you can find our winegrowing regions presentations on Winalist to do a grape job avoiding pour decisions !
Also published on Medium.