Amongst the many misconceptions about Bordeaux is the notion that the doors to the cellars are closed to visitors. As you’ll know, if you follow this blog, this is no longer so. According to the Bordeaux Tourist office, 5,8 million tourists visited the city of Bordeaux over the past 12 months, a record, and of course most of them venture out to the vineyards.
Wineries are constantly updating and renovating their cellars to adapt to the latest wine making technology, but it’s not just winemaking that motivates the new designs. With wine tourism growing in the region, adapting to visitors is now a priority and the visitors experience and the image of the property is up there with the technical winemaking when it comes to design decisions.
Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte has brought the 18th century Château Pedesclaux very much into the 21st century. Completed in 2014, the impressive ultra-modern glass cellar has 58 double-compartment conical tanks gravity-fed stainless steel vats that correspond to the new plot-by-plot organisation of the vineyards and refrigerated rooms allow not just prepping for cold soak but allowing time to manage the influx of grapes. So far so technical, but the modern take is not just in the wine cellar. The traditional château is surrounded by a glass ‘box’ extending to each side, allowing room for a tasting room encompassing the old pigeon tower on one side and offices with a view over the estuary on the other.
Further South in the heart of the village of Margaux, Chateau Marquis d’Alesme, is being redesigned with the visitor experience at the heart of the project. This is a feminine story as well as an international one. The owner, Nathalie, from the Franco-Chinese Perrodo family has trusted Marjolaine de Connick with the wine making. The architectural project has been handed to Fabien Pedelaborde working alongside local craftsman using excellent materials to create an Asian fusion cellar. The visitor experience will start in new buildings that include a bistro serving not just wine but coffee.
The Asian zen feeling of the cellars continues through the project of a series of 6 sensory gardens including a children’s maze which will open in May 2016.
But it’s not just about visiting cellars and tasting wine, visitors also need a place to stay. Château Haut Bailly has been a pioneer of wine tourism for many years. As well as the classic wine tourism they also cater to the corporate visitor with a fully equipped audio visual conference room. In 2012 they acquired neighbouring Chateau Le Pape.
As well as producing a red Pesac-Leognan wine, the Château lent itself perfectly to the creation of a guesthouse. Three years of renovation included adding on a second tower, giving a beautiful symmetry to the classical chartreuse, surrounded by lovely gardens overlooked by the terrace and pool. The luxurious rooms start at €250. The central location and proximity to Bordeaux make this a great base from which to discover all the other open doors in Bordeaux.