By Pete Thompson
Sharing the fruits of her labour in the longest cellar in Beaujolais is the Marquise de Roussy de Sales. Her Chateau de la Chaize may be steeped in history, but she’s looking to the future by implementing methods of respectful agriculture.
But now she’s preparing for the busiest period of the year – the annual harvest.
Vineyards across the region are awash with a blend of rush and excitement, but the pace is much slower at my base, the dreamy Château de Bagnols, a retreat in the heart of the Pierres Dorées region, just half an hour’s drive from Lyon. Tasting fine wines on a balcony of the fairytale castle, I admire jaw-dropping views of Mont Blanc in the distance – another taste of the high life.
While gaining access to vineyards isn’t always straightforward (appointments are generally required), zipping down to the Beaujolais region is easy on the Eurostar. Lyon is only five hours from London, and it has a lot to shout about with ancient landmarks such as the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls of Lugdunum, an enticing climate and a reputation as the French capital of gastronomy.
My tour guide in Lyon recalls meeting a councillor in the 1960s who, when asked about attracting more tourists, replied: “Why should I want people coming here to drink our best wine?” As I return home clutching my Beaujolais red, I am grateful they are now happy to share the wealth.
Doubles at Château de Bagnols from €249 with breakfast. Visit www.chateaudebagnols.com
Eurostar operates a direct service from London to Lyon, Avignon and Marseilles. Fares start at £44.50 one-way (based on a return journey). Visit www.eurostar.com or call 03432 186186.