• Couly-Dutheil (12 rue Diderot, Chinon; tel. 02-47-97-20-20; www.coulydutheil-chinon.com): Many of its medieval cellars are carved into the rock undulating through the area's forests. Most production here involves Chinon wines (mostly reds), though its Bourgueil and St-Nicolas de Bourgueil wines are growing in popularity in North America.
  • Taittinger (9 place St-Nicaise, Reims; tel. 03-26-85-45-35; www.taittinger.com): Taittinger is a grand marque of French champagne, one of the few still controlled by members of the family that founded it, in 1930. It's one of the most visitor-friendly houses.
  • Domaines Schlumberger (100 rue Théodore-Deck, Guebwiller, near Colmar; tel. 03-89-74-27-00; www.domaines-schlumberger.com): Established in 1810, these cellars blend early-19th-century brickwork and modern stainless steel; a visit will enhance your understanding of the subtle differences among wines produced by the seven varieties of grape cultivated in Alsace.
  • Domaine Maurice Protheau (Château d'Etroyes, Mercurey; tel. 03-85-45-10-84; www.domaine-protheau-mercurey.fr): The 50 hectares (124 acres) of grapevines straddle at least two appellations contrôlées (a regulation system that ensures a wine has been produced where the bottles says), so you'll have a chance to contrast reds (both pinot noirs and burgundies), whites, and rosés produced under the auspices of both Rully and Mercurey. Headquarters is in a château built in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
  • The Winegrowing Region around Bordeaux: This area is among the most glamorous in France, with a strong British influence, thanks to centuries of trade with London- and Bristol-based dealers. One prestigious grower, Société Duboscq, Château Haut-Marbuzet, St-Estephe (tel. 05-56-59-30-54), welcomes visitors who phone in advance of their arrival Monday to Saturday. Free visits to the cellars are followed by a complimentary dégustation des vins of whichever of the company's products a visitor requests.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.