A visit to Lyon, the capital of French gastronomy, would not be complete without indulging in the region's finest wines. France is famous for its wine culture, and it's an integral part of the French culinary experience. The elegant and historic city is blessed with several vineyards and wineries that produce exceptional wines, which are a delight to wine enthusiasts. Lyon is surrounded by beautiful vineyard regions that showcase a vast array of different wines. Whether you're looking for a half-day Beaujolais wine tour or a day trip to Rhône Valley, you have options. In this article, I've highlight some of the best wine tours you can take around Lyon and why they are worth exploring.
Who am I to advise you? I'm an expert sommelier (WSET 4) who's lived in Lyon since 2017 and runs Lyon Wine Tastings, wine tastings in native English that cover Burgundy, the Rhône, and Beaujolais.
I know there are a lot of lists online, made up by faceless companies like Viator/Tripadvisor and GetYourGuide whose algorithms create pay-to-play rankings depending on how many bookings tour operators give them. I am recommending wine tour operators that I can vouch for, that have been around for years and are run by real experts. Third party sites like Viator take between 25 and 40% booking fees. Please book directly to support independent local businesses.
Keep in mind that a wine tour will take up most of your day and require lots of time in the car, even a half-day tour. If you want to learn about all of the wines that surround Lyon, including the rarest and most expensive wines in the world, Burgundy, then you might want to enjoy an afternoon wine tasting in the heart of Lyon with me instead. If you do have time to do both, doing my educational tasting first will set you up to make the most of your time with winemakers, engaging more deeply with your newfound knowledge.
What to Expect on a Wine Tour from Lyon
When it comes to wine, there are few better places to explore the picturesque vineyards than Lyon. As the capital of French gastronomy, this beautiful city is surrounded by some of the country's most renowned wine regions, including Burgundy. In this article, I'll take a closer look at what to expect on a wine tour from Lyon, exploring some of the top tours you can book. Whether you're a seasoned sommelier or simply looking for a fun and informative day out, there's plenty to discover on a wine tour from Lyon.
The group wine tours that leave from Lyon will be run by native French speakers and will be in both French and English for both French and English speaking guests.
A wine tour from Lyon will either visit the Northern Rhône or Beaujolais. Both of these vineyard areas are close to Lyon, about an hour away in either direction. I do not recommend trying to do a day trip to Burgundy from Lyon, unless you want to spend 6 hours + in the car. As it is, any wine tour from Lyon will include at least 3 hours of driving, including driving between locations.
Options include half day, full day, private, and group tours. Read on to discover my favorite tour companies that do wine tours from Lyon.
If spending a big part of the day in the car doesn't appeal to you (especially if you're just in town for a couple days), you can book an exploratory wine tasting featuring all of our local wines, including Burgundy, right in the heart of Lyon.
Visiting the Northern Rhône from Lyon
The Northern Rhône is one of the most prestigious regions in France for good reason. Its vineyards are known to produce some of the best full-bodied red wines in the world, with a flavor profile that is rich, complex, and wonderfully earthy. During wine tours from Lyon, visitors can expect an hour drive to the terraced vineyards of the Northernmost appellation of the Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie.
Most tours will drive an hour to start in Côte-Rôtie and visit the largest and most famous producer, Guigal, who have a tasting room and a wine museum. You will not be able to visit the winery itself. The reality is that the top producers in Côte-Rôtie like Jamet, Stephane Ogier, or Rostaign, do not accept tourists as visitors. While there are a handful of producers who do tasting room visits, even fewer will see you meeting winemakers or touring the winery.
This applies throughout the region, as it is not particularly developed for tourism and they produce miniscule quantities of wine, which are allocated, so they barely have any wine to sell you. It's rough! If you want to visit the wineries of the prestigious Hermitage, you will need to travel another hour South down the Rhône.
Visiting Beaujolais from Lyon
The Beaujolais wine region is known for its fruity, bright reds, and makes for an excellent day trip from Lyon. The vineyards of Beaujolais are perched on the hillsides, with views across the valley sometimes straight through to the Alps. Visitors can explore charming villages and family wineries, stroll through beautiful vineyards, and sample delicious wines that are perfect for pairing with Lyon's famous cuisine.
A tour will drive about an hour North and likely stay around the less prestigious, southern part of Beaujolais, the beautiful Pierres Dorées, or Golden Stones, named after the lovely yellow stone the villages are built from. You can expect much more access to winemakers in Beaujolais, they have much more time for visitors and are more welcoming than the producers in the Northern Rhône.
The wines can be quite simple reds, but the convivial atmosphere more than makes up for it, and it truly is stunning countryside! The superior wines of Beaujolais tend to be located in the Crus of Beaujolais, further north. The producers here are still just as friendly, but produce more powerful and finer wines.
Personally, I'd take a Beaujolais tour over a Northern Rhône tour any day, I think the people are way nicer and the landscape is more beautiful. While the wines may be less prestigious, they are still delicious.
Visiting Burgundy from Lyon
Is a terrible idea. It's really not close enough for a day trip.
Types of Lyon Wine Tours
Lyon, the capital city of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in France, is renowned for its prestigious wines, excellent cuisine, and beautiful vineyards. A wine tour in Lyon is an excellent way to discover the region's rich wine culture and explore its stunning vineyards. Visitors can embark on different types of wine tours, each offering a unique experience from half-day tours to full-day itineraries. If you don't have time to spend most of the day out of the city, consider a wine tasting in Lyon with me, where you can explore Beaujolais, Burgundy, and the Northern Rhône in one afternoon.
Private Wine Tour from Lyon
Private wine tours offer an intimate and customizable experience compared to group tours. Private tours are tailored to the interests and preferences of the group, making it a more personalized and enjoyable experience. Additionally, private tours provide flexibility as it allows participants to explore the region at their own pace and schedule.
A private wine tour from Lyon is a memorable experience that provides an intimate and exclusive insight into the region's wine tradition and history. The customizable nature of private tours allows participants to enjoy a tailored experience while appreciating the vineyards' beauty and tasting some of Lyon's most exceptional wines. Book a private wine tour in Lyon and enjoy a truly unique and unforgettable experience in one of the world's most beautiful wine regions.
All of the operators below offer private tours, as do I! I am more expensive than them though because it's not my primary business and I have to hire a driver. My private tours are highly custom and include a chauffeur, visiting 3 top producers, and a gastronomic lunch. Contact me directly with your dates and the number of folks for a quote.
Group Wine Tour from Lyon
If you're a solo traveler or a group of friends looking to make new friends, a group wine tour is the perfect way to experience the wine regions around Lyon. With a knowledgeable guide and fellow wine enthusiasts, you'll explore some of the best vineyards in the region while learning more about the history and culture of wine-making.
One of the benefits of taking a Group Wine Tour is the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who share a passion for wine. You'll be able to ask questions and discuss tasting notes with others, making the experience more social and engaging. Additionally, a knowledgeable guide will be there to answer any questions you may have about the wines, the vineyards, or the region's history.
Most importantly, a group tour will be significantly cheaper than a private tour as you're sharing the cost with others.
Half-Day vs Full-Day Wine Tour from Lyon
In my opinion a half-day will be rushed, and you won't have as immersive an experience. I recommend full day tours! If you don't have time for that, a tasting with me is the perfect solution that only takes up 3 hours of your time.
The Best Wine Tour Operators from Lyon
There are a lot of wine tours online these days, and honestly I have no idea who they are or where they're finding their wine experts! What I can tell you is that contacts matter, as does experience. The operators that you can trust to give you the real deal experience are these three. Sadly nobody's giving me commission but they totally should right?
Rhône Trip Wine Tours from Lyon
Rhône Trip is run by a fellow WSET Diploma graduate, Julie Tran, who is awesome. This small team run tours from Lyon to the Northern Rhône and also Beaujolais. I highly recommend Rhône Trip! Rhône Trip does group tours and private tours, full-day and half-day tours.
Kanpai Tourisme Wine Tours from Lyon
Kanpai Tourisme is the biggest and best established player in the wine tour scene, and has been operating since 2006. They offer a wide variety of tours to Beaujolais and the Northern Rhône as well as Lyon tours.
Lyon Wine Tours
Vincent has run Lyon Wine Tours for many years as well where he takes visitors to the Northern Rhône, he is also a winemaker which gives him an edge.
Lyon Wine Tastings
Ok so I don't do a lot of tours, I only do private, custom, high end ones when someone reaaaally wants it, but if you want to level up your wine knowledge with the full attention of an expert Somm, then my Wines of Lyon tasting is exactly what you need.
My tastings are awesome because I share all of the different wines of the many regions that surround Lyon, and I don't waste any of your time in a car. I also have A/C which doesn't suck. And a super cute dog named Buffy who sometimes joins us for our tasting.
My tastings are deeply educational but also super fun, and you will leave knowing a lot more about wine than you started with!
In conclusion, there are many great wine tour operators to choose from in Lyon, depending on the type of experience you're looking for. For a more intimate and educational experience, I highly recommend either taking a private tour with me or going for a tasting. Happy tasting!