On paper, it sounds fantastic. You, your partner, and your own little motorhome touring world’s most picturesque wine regions in France. You stop when you want, you sleep where you want, and take home a lifetime of #winelover memories!
If you don’t heed our advice however, the reality could be a completely different scenario, testing even the strongest of relationships. We recently travelled the length of the Loire Valley (and back again) with our partner tagging along for the ride – in 4 days!! The trip was amazing (albeit exhausting), and yours will be too, so long as you follow our tips below.
7 essential tips to surviving a wine holiday in a motorhome
- Go with a reputable company like we did. Francemotorhomehire.com is run by English husband and wife team, Phill and Hannah Spurge. These guys have the most amazing customer service and will go the distance to ensure your holiday is memorable. Think of Hannah and Phill as your personal concierge on the road, always happy to answer your questions over the phone! All vehicles are new, everyone speaks English, and all guides and recommendations are also printed in English. Perfect for simpletons like us Wine Wankers!
- Plan your winery stops accurately so you’re not travelling all day and running late for each visit. This was our major issue – The Loire Valley is VERY long, and we covered it in both directions over 4 days; leaving us exhausted at the end of each day. BIG MISTAKE! In hindsight, we should’ve concentrated on one section only- the Upper Loire and the wine regions of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume – spectacular scenery and wines to match, and it’s a mere spitting distance from Sens, where we picked up our vehicle from Francemotorhomehire.com.
- If you love your creature comforts (like electricity that can charge your mobile phone and laptop), make sure you plan to stay in a caravan park as the power outlets inside a motorhome only work when you are hooked up to a mains supply. When you aren’t, only the hot water, toilet and lights will work. Which is fine for some, but for others, a real relationship tester when your mobile phone runs out of juice, you can’t update your Facebook and you actually have to talk with each other!! Another plus, you also get to use the caravan park’s bathroom facilities etc and meet other travellers. Costs approx. US$30 per night. Expert tip: Never use your motorhome’s toilet to do a number 2 – that’s what petrol stations and restaurants are good for! J
- Make sure you plan at least a couple of nights where you’re in complete isolation with an amazing view. This is where a motorhome comes in to its own – find an isolated spot at the top of a hill, with an amazing vista of your wine region. Grab your favourite bottle of wine you discovered that day, and watch the sun set. With a view this spectacular, you won’t need a fully charged iPhone to read your Facebook feed. Although you will need to capture that moment and share the fuck out of it in order to make your friends insanely jealous!
- Don’t over commit your winery visits – especially if your partner is not a wine geek/wine wanker and will lose interest after 15 minutes at a cellar door. My partner enjoys wine, but they also enjoy the Real Housewives of Beverley Hills (I do not judge…). While cramming six wineries into one day’s schedule seems like bliss to you, it will be hell for them. Plan two winery visits per day at the most and get their buy in on the itinerary so there are no surprises during the vacation.
- Pepper your trip with interesting non-wine activities. Even the geekiest of wine geeks cannot live on wineries alone. The Loire Valley is teeming with amazing chateaus and castles along the way – the whole place is just so god damn Instagrammable! Sidenote: after you’ve been inside one fairy-tale chateau, they are all the same!
- When researching which wineries to visit, check out the local vineyard association for completely unbiased opinions. They also give you a stack of other information on things to do in the area as well. This is the link for the Loire Valley. And if you’re still stumped on which wineries to visit (because there are so many to choose from – narrow it down by looking for recommendations from reputable wine sites like Decanter, Wine Spectator or Jancis Robinson.
Where we visited – as told through Instagram
We're in the Loire Valley and we've just pulled up at our first stop, Chateau du Coing St Fiacre, in the Lower Loire near Nantes. This region specialises is Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine AOP. The wines are aged on their yeast lees to give them a more rounder finish. Thanks to the guys at francemotorhomehire.com for the loan of the van for the next 5 days. It's the best way to get around! Post by Drew. #winewankers #wwloiretrip #wwontour #vinscentreloire #Wine #WineLover @lesvinsducentreloire
Sunrise over the vineyards of Chateau du Coing de Saint Fiacre in lower Loire Valley – famous for it Muscadet. The principle grape variety of this region is Melon de Bourgogne, which gives a crisp dry wine with grapefruit and pear flavours, and traces of butter when aged. The better examples, look out for Muscadet Sèvre et Maine AOP. Follow @vgcmuscadet Post by Drew #winewankers #wwloiretrip #wwontour #vinscentreloire #Wine #WineLover
ON the western edge of the Loire Valley you will find the city of Nantes, and close by is the area made famous for Muscadet. For lovers of Hunter Valley Semillon – check out these wine stylers. With a bit of age, lovely buttered toast characters develop. The Chateau du Coing de Saint Fiacre 2010 was great, the 2000 was superb. Post by Drew #winewankers #wwloiretrip #wwontour @vgmuscadet #vinscentreloire The Wine Wankers are touring through the Loire in a fantastic motorhome provided by francemotorhomehire.com
Anjou, found in middle part of the Loire Valley, is renowned for its off dry Rosé wines. The style you should be looking for is its Cabernet d’Anjou – made from either Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon. This example from Domaine Des Deux Moulins sports delicious sweet cassis fruit, which is well balanced with crisp natural acidity. What’s more, they are so bloody affordable – about 5-6 euros! Post by Drew #winewankers #wwloiretrip #wwontour #vinscentreloire #domainedesdeuxmoulins
We are back in Vouvray and checking out the sensational producer, @chateaugaudrelle. Winemaker Alexandre Monmousseau loves his grapes so much, he even plays music to them during the vine’s early development (3 x a day, 7 minutes each time). No, he isn’t high! He does this because it is said keep fungus at bay, which would otherwise affect the vine’s development. This also saves on expensive fungicide sprays. He says it’s even backed up by science and is emailing me the studies that prove this. Regardless, the wines speak for themselves – and they are impressive. Here is Alexandre with the latest batch of Vouvray Millesime sparkling. Post by Drew #winewankers #wwloiretrip #wwontour #vinscentreloire
@Regrann from @winewankers – Another great wine from the Vouvray producer, @chateaugaudrelle. This Chenin Blanc wonder from winemaker Alexandre Monmousseau sports delicvious apple and pear flavours with asian influences of ginger and lemongrass. Post by Drew #winewankers #wwloiretrip #wwontour #vinscentreloire #vouvray #Regrann
I learnt something new! There is a natural straight faultline that divides Sancerre in to two parts; on the right side you will find Silex, a flint and sand based soil (giving wines that have vivid minerality, dramatic freshness and great aging potential) and on the left is limestone based soil (rounder, earlier drinking styles, but can age well with the right oak treatment). Post by Drew #winewankers #wwloiretrip #wwontour #vinscentreloire #sancerre
For #DomaineVacheron , this is the Sancerre everyone covets – only 2500 bottles are made each vintage. Guigne Chèvre vineyard is biodynamically grown, and the vines are planted in the infamous Silex soils of Sancerre – famed for producing wines of vivid minerality and dramatic freshness. Wine this good deserves some bottle age – 10 years is ideal. And break out some fresh oysters to serve! Post by Drew #winewankers #wwloiretrip #wwontour #vinscentreloire #sancerre #DomaineVacheron
Lovers of the New Zealand winery, @closhenrivineyard will have dejavu – because this is its sister operation, from the world’s other top Sav Blanc producing region of Sancerre. This is @domaine_henri_bourgeois 's top wine, and gee d’Antan is good! Searing acidity that is in check with its beautiful fruit flavours. Post by Drew #winewankers #wine #wwloiretrip #sancerre #closhenri #henribourgeois #winelover #wwontour
It was such a privilege to be taken through the entire range of the Loire Valley's most famous label, Didier Dagueneau. And who better to guide us through the Pouilly Fumé wines than the legend's daughter herself, Charlotte. These wines are truly special and you should definitely try them at least once in your life. Post by Drew #winewankers #wwloiretrip #wwontour #vinscentreloire #pouillyfume #didierdaguenesu
Disclosure: While The Wine Wankers did pay for the hire of their motorhome, they did receive a discount from www.francesmotorhomehire.com.