Le chemin des vignerons, also known as le sentier des vignerons, translates as the wine growers trail.
It is a hiking trail around the vignobles of Belvèze-du-Razès, in Aude. Along the trail you will see panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the peaks of Saint-Barthélémy and Soularac in Ariège, as well as the Pech de Bugarach, the highest point of the Corbières in Aude. You can see as far as the Mount Canigou in Pyrenees Orientales and the Black Mountains at the southern end of the Central Massif , which separate the departments of Tarn, Herault, Aude and Haute Garonne. The trail is about 18 kilometres long with a gentle 300 metre denivelé (elevation).
It is picturesque and quite deserted, at least it was this weekend. This is hardly surprising as the temperature shot up to 33° and there is little shade on this path. Only mad dogs and Englishmen! In a little over four and a half hours we saw one car, no horses, although there is a horse trail, and one cyclist (voilà the English man) with a flat tire walking his bike back to his village at a speed which put us to shame, and happily no mad dogs. By the end of the walk, despite having been surrounded by vines all day, I was feeling fairly parched and wanted nothing more than a tall glass of water. The 3 litres we had taken with us ran out during the last 30 minutes.
My husband persuaded me nevertheless to do a little wine tasting at le Domaine Le Fort, a family run property. Domaine Le Fort is the westernmost vineyard of the Languedoc, not far from the medieval city of Carcassonne. Situated on the Malepère terroir, looking out towards the Pyrenees and only 80 kilometres from the Mediterrean Sea, the family estate has been revitalised by the new generation since 1995 and offers about twenty vintages each with a very assertive character. The vineyards cover more than 35 hectares, planted on south facing clay-limestone hillsides.
In typical laid back, friendly ‘Aude’ style we were introduced to the wines of Domaine Le Fort. Verdict: a delightful family run estate with an array of cépages (grape varieties) ranging from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Grenache as well as Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Petits Grains and most recently Riesling and Gewürztraminer. The particularity of this estate is that they produce many wines from a single grape variety, ‘monocépage’, which highlight the specific characteristics of each grape.
My personal favourites : Domaine Le Fort AOP Malepère and le Sauvignon Blanc non vinifié en fût de chêne.
Wine Tourism in Occitanie
Occitanie is the largest wine producing region of France. With the south west wines like Gaillac, Fronton, Madiran, Cahor and the Languedoc wines such as Corbières, Minervois, Muscat, Pic St Loup and their vin de sables, just to name a few, wine tourism in Occitanie is plentiful.
Wine Tourism or Vinotourism – the tasting, consumption or purchase of wine at the source where one can visit the cellars and learn about the process of wine making (vinification). Although many areas of the tourism industry have suffered immensely due to Covid, like the airline business which has pretty much ground to a halt, wine tourism, especially at the local level is weathering the storm.
There are many good reasons to visit Aude, pays Cathare, notably to visit the castles, or what is left of the Cathare castles, dotted about the stunning landscape.
I hope that you have enjoyed this post on the Chemin des Vignerons, follow me to keep up with me on my travels around beautiful Occitanie…………………..à bientôt Christina