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The first bottles from this year’s wine harvest are starting to be sold in France now, so it’s  a grand time to take a wine tasting trip. The weather has been challenging this year so quantity will be down - but quality is high and prices for exports may rise, making the best buys to be had direct from the French vineyards.

Of course, France has a passion for making the finest wine, which is born out of the natural environment in which grapes are grown and the culture and traditions of its producers. France is a perfectly successful mix of both factors and the ultimate destination for wine tasting.

I love to stroll around a vineyard admiring the rows of vines that stretch ahead cross miles of verdant hillsides. After that, it's a pleasure to venture into the shade of cool medieval cellars for tasting straight from the barrel, gaining fascinating insight into the craft of wine production and, of course, that all- important art of wine tasting – the fragrant aromas, the subtlety of flavours, the rich colours.

The harvest is celebrated with wine festivals, even in the smallest towns, and visitors are always welcome to join the celebration in a spirit of tradition that goes back centuries. It's a treat to see parades and presentations, enjoy the wines, share the spirit of community and joint endeavour.

After a leisurely afternoon of wine tasting, it's impossible to walk away empty handed. When you open a bottle at home, you know that your comments will be expert and it's then that all the holiday memories come flooding back!

Many of our self-catering properties and hospitable B&Bs are located in wine growing regions and organise wine tours and tastings, making them the perfect place to stay for a wine tasting trip to France.

Explore our comprehensive guide to the French wine regions  Check out places to stay that offer wine tasting

Our photo shows vineyards in the Saumur region of Poitou-Charentes