Saint-Émilion is one of the most prestigious wine areas in the world. With more than 800 wine producers, an endless landscape of vineyards, and its vicinity to Bordeaux, it became one of the top destinations in the southwest of France. More than a million visitors arrive each year to explore the nine communes of the Saint-Émilion region: Saint-Émilion, Saint-Christophe des Bardes, Saint-Sulpice de Faleyrens, Saint-Hippolyte, Saint-Etienne de Lisse, Saint-Laurent des Combes, Saint-Pey d’Armens, Vignonet and parts of Libourne.
With so much excellent wine and beautiful châteaux, choosing which wineries to visit in Saint-Émilion can be quite a difficult task. The fact that many of the well-known châteaux are only open to professionals in the wine industry doesn’t help either. So to help you build your trip to this amazing wine region, I gathered my list of the best wineries to visit in Saint-Émilion. The list includes wineries having great wine (obviously), beautiful properties and interesting tours. I featured both small family run wineries and bigger châteaux, and if time permits I would recommend combining both in your visit.
This elegant château is located about 20 minutes’ walk from the center of Saint-Émilion. The property has a 400-year history as it has been handed down from generation to generation since at least the early 17th century. Today, the family’s 14th generation lives in the property and runs the winemaking business. One of the things that won me over when I first visited was their amazing garden with its own pond and ducks. Combine that with a glass of wine and you will enjoy an amazing picturesque scenery. It’s particularly great if you’re visiting with kids as they can enjoy the garden while you’re taking the wine tour. The David-Beaulieu family is very welcoming and they guide the tours themselves giving a very personal feel to it.
There are two tours to choose from: The “Tradition” (45 min – 5€) which includes the history of the estate, a visit to the winery and the family cellar, and wine tasting. And the “Prestige” visit (1h30 – 12€), which is for 8 people max, and also includes a tour through the vineyards and an exploration of Coutet’s treasures. The tours have to be scheduled ahead. To book a visit call ++33 (0) 5 57 74 43 21 or ++33 (0) 7 82 22 01 05 or write an email to [email protected] .
Address: Coutet, 33330 Saint-Émilion
Château Bernateau is also a family run winery owned by the 11th generation of the Lavau family. The tour is run by the lovely Karine who is married to one of the sons running the family business. The visit, which lasts around an hour and a half, takes you from the vineyard to the glass. You will see 60 years old vines as well as new ones, visit their beautiful new gravity vat house and then taste wine from different years and styles. It’s a beautiful property with a green and charming garden and a small playground for kids. So if you want to spend some time in the château beyond the tour itself and maybe have a picnic, this place is highly recommended.
They are open daily and offer tours in English and French. The price is 6 euros if you join a group and 10 euros for a private tour. Click here to book a tour online. You can also book a tour by phone (++33 (0) 5 57 40 18 19) or by email: [email protected]
Address: Château Bernateau, 33330 Saint-Étienne-de-Lisse
The Beaurang winery is located in the southern part of Saint-Émilion, about 5 km from the center. This isn’t a fancy château, but if you’re looking for a warm welcome, a family feel and great wine this is the right place for you. Claude Puyol and his daughter Delphine represent the third and fourth generation in this artisanal wine-making family. They have an interesting history as they are descendants of Spanish immigrants who came to the region in the early 20th century as simple workers and were eventually able to buy the château and start making their own wine.
The visit will teach you quite a lot about the wine in the region and about the life of a winemaker. In a fascinating way, Claude presents both the beauty and the struggles of wine growers including the effect weather has on their business. At the end of the tour, you will taste some of their great wine, which was one of our favorites in Saint-Émilion. The tours are offered every day from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00. They offer the visit for free but require a reservation. You can book a tour by phone (++33 (0) 6 81 56 35 58) or by email: [email protected]
Address: Château Beaurang, 1, Beaurang, 33330 Saint-Emilion
Château La Croizzille
Château la Croizille offers a fascinating journey combining old and new. The modern château stands right next to the traditional Château of Tour Baladoz, owned by the same family. This tour allows you to discover the differences between the traditional techniques and the innovative ones for which Château la Croizille is known for. One of the highlights of this tour is the amazing view from the tasting room overlooking the vineyards from the top.
The basic tour (12€ per person) is offered daily and includes the modern cellars and tastings. You can also get a picnic basket full of local goodies for 35€. Click here to book online. Another option is to book a private tour (35€ per person) by phone (33) 05 57 74 55 86 or by email: [email protected]
Address: lieu-dit Baladoz, 33330 Saint-Laurent des Combes (Saint-Emilion)
Château Guibeau is a bit far from Saint-Émilion (15 minutes drive) but totally worth the ride. It’s considered a big winery in Saint-Émilion, with 38 hectares on which they produce around 120,000 bottles a year. It’s owned and run by Brigitte and Eric Destouet. Brigitte is the one running the tours and she will easily make you fall in love with their property and bio wine.
The visits to the chateau are possible from Monday to Friday from 10h30 to 12h and from 14h to 18h for only 5€ per person. You can also take the gourmand tour, with a delicious basket to take to a picnic in the garden of the chateau with an amazing view. Book both tours here or by email to [email protected] or by phone: ++33 (0) 5 57 55 22 75. The owners also have a guesthouse on their property so if you’re looking for an immersive experience that includes a stay in a wine chateau, this is a great opportunity. Click here to book a room.
Address: 51 Guibeau Ouest, 33570 Puisseguin
At a mere 10 minutes walk from the center of Saint-Émilion stands the impressive 18th-century Château Soutard. If visiting a beautiful château is high on your list, this is a great option. Since 2006, its owned by La Mondiale company, so it doesn’t have the cozy family feel like many of the other chateaux on this list. But it’s a very popular and highly rated experience. The Château offers plenty of fun activities such as a wine blending workshop, biking in the vineyards, a gourmet picnic and of course, wine tours.
Their basic wine tour (12€ / person) starts at 14h every day from April to October, no reservation is required. It includes a visit to their vineyards and cellars. At the end of the tour, you have the chance to taste their renowned Grand Cru Classé wines. To book any of their activities click here.
Address: Soutard, 33330 Saint-Émilion
Another charming family-run winery is Château Cantenac, built in 1870 on the locality “Cantenac”. The property and its vineyards are located about 3.5 km west of the center of Saint Emilion. Since 1937, the winery is owned by the Roskam-Brunot family, which are now in their 3rd and 4th generations of winemakers. The family is very friendly and their tours are full of knowledge about the winemaking process. The tours are guided by a family member, who is really passionate about the heritage, the wine and the whole process of producing it. The tour ends up with a comparative and educational wine tasting experience.
The winery offers two tours: The one-hour classic tour (10 € / person) and the Prestige tour ( 25 € / person ) which also includes some snacks and more wine. You can visit the château from Monday to Friday (10h30 to 14h) upon reservation. Click here to book the tour directly through their site.
Address: 2 locality Cantenac, 33330 Saint-Emilion
Château de Ferrand
Another impressive château on our list is Château de Ferrand, located about 6km from the center of Saint-Émilion. Part of the tour will include the history of the Château that dates back to the 17th century. The wine is a Grand Cru Classé and with its 32-hectare, it’s considered a big winery in the Saint-Émilion wine region. During the tour, you’ll get to visit the vineyard and their big wine cellars. While many of the wineries on this list have a family feeling to them this one is a bit different. It’s much more professional and the wine tasting part is conducted by a professional sommelier that will teach you how to taste wine.
Tour prices range between 17 and 21 euros depending on the number of glasses you’re going to taste. The most expensive tour (21 euros) includes tastings of cheese and charcuterie. Click here to book a visit through their site. You can also book by phone + 33 (0) 5 57 74 47 11 or email: [email protected]
Address: Château de Ferrand, Saint-Hippolyte, 33330 Saint Emilion
If you come to Saint-Émilion by train and you really don’t want to leave the village, Château Villemaurine is perfect for you as it’s a short walking distance from the village center. The Château combines tradition, modernity, centuries of history and the refined production of great wines.
Château Villemaurine offers three guided tours. The first one is a group discovery tour (15€ / person) where you get to visit the vineyards and the monolithic cellars which are located underneath the vines of the estate. Second is the Heritage tour (15€ / person ) where you will discover the stunning network of quarries owned by the Château Villemaurine. Last is a private tour (45€ / person) which is personally designed for wine enthusiasts. All the tours include wine tasting in the end. Click here to book the tour online.
Address: 23 Villemaurine-Sud, Saint-Émilion
Visiting with kids
If you’re visiting Saint-Émilion with kids and you’re afraid that a visit to a winery will bore them, take the train tour. The little train leaves every 45 minutes from Espace Villemaurine (next to the bus parking). It’s a 35 minutes tour (7€ / person) that takes you through the vineyards and the big châteaux of Saint-Émilion. If you wish to combine that with a winery visit, the 11€ tour includes a stop at Chateau Rochebelle and its stunning, beautifully lit monolithic cellars (with wine tastings at the end). The tickets can be bought in the tourist office in Saint-Émilion or online (24 hours in advance). For all the details and to book a train tour click here.
Now for the more practical part. While some châteaux will welcome spontaneous visitors, most of the wineries require prior reservations. So be sure to book the tours in advance. In addition, unless you’re coming during the summer, some of the châteaux are closed on the weekends, so if you have the chance, try visiting during the week. Lastly, while visiting Saint-Émilion is a beautiful experience any time of the year, there are some months that are less recommended for wine tours. During the winter (from December to March) and especially in January when it gets cold, many wineries are closed for visits. September is one of the most interesting times in the area as it’s the harvest season but take into account that many small châteaux don’t have enough staff to offer tours during that time so make sure to contact the château in advance.
Saint-Émilion is the queen of wine tourism and one article cannot possibly cover all the tours you can take in the area. In this article, I simply wanted to highlight some of the tours I personally enjoyed and to offer a variety of both big and small châteaux to help my readers plan their trip to the area. Hope you liked it 🙂
If you’re also visiting Bordeaux be sure to check out my post about the best things to do in the city and the best hotels in Bordeaux. Saint-Émilion is not the only day trip you can do from Bordeaux. The area is full of historic villages and beautiful nature. If you want to discover some of them, I invite you to read my article about the best day trips you can do by train from Bordeaux.
Finally, If you are looking for a fun and delicious activity in Bordeaux, check out my food tours in which I’ll take you through a journey in the culinary scene of the Southwest of France.
Need more ideas for things to do in and around Bordeaux? you should definitely join my newsletter where I share a lot of info about the area – sign up here.